Subway Series: Bruce Davidson at the Aperture Foundation
Far above the metro trains and tunnels that his images chronicle, Bruce Davidson’s book Subway has just been re-released with 25 never-before-seen images. Currently housed at the Aperture Foundation, his seminalseries focuses on New York City subway riders during the 80s, one of the most dangerous periods in the city's history.
In his artist's statement, Davidson (whose work includes shooting alongside Cartier-Bresson in World War II) likens his images to undersea photographs of fish. The quality of light follows along in this fashion––a bright, penetrating flash exposes different types of New Yorkers in their daily commute. Davidson purposely chose to shoot the series in color to accentuate the varied lighting of the subway riding experience; each subject is stunningly captured in the light of the rising sun or under the fluorescent glow of overhead lights. The subjects range from Adidas-clad thugs to elderly people navigating their way through the city’s grime––all observed and related by Davidson.
While visual indicators point to the series’ 80s origins, there’s a certain timelessness to Davidson’s work. The subways aren’t covered in graffiti anymore, but the essence of his subjects is still visible underground. Images from Subway are on display at the Aperture Foundation through October 29th, 2011. The book is available at available at OC. Image Credit: Subway, by Bruce Davidson (Aperture and Magnum Photos 2011)