Another photographer has chosen to document people on public transport, this time on the subway in New York. Agou spent three years riding the subway with his unconcealed handheld Leica, opting not to use any other equipment, even a flash. The resulting work is a small book of portraits and scenes that hovers between the documentary and fine art genres. You may think these images can’t be too distinct from the vast array of work on this subject, and you’re not wrong. Yet, Agou’s work radiates with a kind of sombre reflection that allows each individual black and white portrait to rely on their own intrinsic beauty.
The people captured on the subway reveal a peculiarity of human nature when forced into tight quarters with strangers, solitude and contemplation deeply in-grained into their faces. Whether it’s the odd details, such as the mannequin folded up inside an abandoned suitcase, or the re-occurring expressions of boredom as eyes glance up to count the number of stops left, Agou’s images remind us that these scenes are common occurrences in all large metropolises in the world. The inclusion of the blurry shots of moving trains draws us back towards Agou’s fine art tendencies and easily could have been left out. Beautifully printed, the images are laid out as to take us on our own journey on the subway. As the title suggests, a completely detached and strange existence goes on under our streets, as much as it is ignored. Taking notice of the tiny details might just lessen the monotony.