Since the early 1990s, Christophe Agou, a French photographer, has been taking pictures of New York. He has developed a love for the city and an uncanny feel for the look of the ordinary. The New York subway has captured the imaginations of photographers from Walter Evans to Bruce Davidson. But never has it been so powerfully and lyrically portrayed as in Agou's carefully orchestrated sequences where the searing images haunt and intrigue us at the same time. Bridging the worlds of documentary and art photography, Life Below is a series of frozen moments, revealing fear, love, affection, stress and solitude. These are compellingly intimate photographs of people from all walks of life, in a meditative state before they put on a mask.
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Christophe Agou's work has been published in major magazines, exhibited in Europe and the US and represented in numerous public collections, notably The Smithsonian Institution and Les Galaries Photo Fnac.From Publishers Weekly:
Shot between 1997 and 2000, French photojournalist Agou's subway portraits stick to the gritty b&w protocol set by generations before him and deliver satisfying set pieces. An exhausted Latino worker sprawled out on the steps in the heat, waiting interminably for the train; a sensitive looking Clark Kent type in madras shorts staring blankly out the window of a passing train; an emaciated nun dozing but alert; trash blowing above grates; the bulging stomach of a mid-level employee in outdated shirt and tie; a tangle of wires leading to an antiquated P.A. speaker—it's all here, including what looks like a pool of blood on a concrete concourse. The printing of these 64 duotones is sharp, with a maximum of one photo per page and some spreads. As the publicity note states, New York City is considering banning "unauthorized" photography in the subway, so Agou's subject and style, which are commonplace now, may become rarer.
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