Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Bruce Davidson trained like an athlete to enable his Subway project, knowing that he would be spending hours every day carrying an armory of heavy cameras. The images capture the labyrinth of the New York subway in the 1980’s. The sheer logistics of this series might have been a deterrent in themselves as the subway was prohibitively dangerous for passengers at this time, let alone for a photographer carrying a host of expensive equipment. Couple that with the sheer bravery of approaching strangers in this hostile environment and having seconds to capture something of their essence on film and you start to appreciate the genius of these images, were the beauty of the pictures not testimony enough in themselves.
The trains hurtle around the metropolis,the time of day and seasons change, monuments are seen from different viewpoints. The pictures are a mixture of dreams and nightmares, a celebration of joy and humanity, life and death and a reminder of the oppressed and rejected. The claustrophobia of the carriages is redolent with charged sexuality, body odors, emotion, human interaction and alienation. The subway is the great leveller.