Friday Eye Candy: The Theatricality of the Subway

A new book of photography amplifies what was already there.

1 minute read

September 17, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A performer holding numerous instruments plays for a crowd in the New York Subway.

Frances L Fruit / Shutterstock

The Washington Post shares a collection of photos by David Rothenberg from the photographer's latest book, Roosevelt Station, which present the New York Subway as a grand theatrical stage upon which millions of residents, commuters, and tourists play their part every day.

Kenneth Dickerman writes the article to set the stage (ahem) for the book's collection of photos.

With so many people riding the rails, the subway is a feast for the senses. You’ll see people performing, intentionally or not, all over the place, whether in the passageways leading to the platforms, on the platforms themselves, or even in the trains. In many ways, the constant flow of people in New York is like one giant performance.

As for David Rothenberg's methods, Dickerman explains:

For two years, Rothenberg planted himself at the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue/74th Street station and captured people coming and going…. Rothenberg’s photos introduce us to a cornucopia of characters, from panhandlers, to businesspeople, to airport-bound travelers. These people are all bathed with an otherworldly glow of magenta, yellow and green, an effect created by Tom Patti’s 2004 glass installation “Night Passage,” nestled in the station.

Dickerman recommends the book for anyone who loves New York—but perhaps that recommendation could be extended to anyone who loves public transit or anyone who loves cities.

Monday, September 13, 2021 in The Washington Post

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