Isidro Blasco Captures the Fractured Spaces Above and Below the L Train
Madrid-born artist Isidro Blasco has photographed rocks in New Jersey, skyscrapers in Brazil, and the rooms of his Queens apartment. Now he’s turning his attention to the New York transit system—the L train, specifically—to map out the city’s hidden infrastructure and to explore the boundaries of public space. At Black & White Gallery/Project Space in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, he invites viewers to consider a newfangled vision of urban architecture through a series of photos depicting composite subway scenes.
Blasco’s process involves manipulating photos manually by cutting and combining shots from different perspectives to put forth a fresh, new vantage point. By fusing together parts of a typical subway scene—a fluorescent-lit platform, a shadowy staircase, trash-strewn rails, people—he takes a playful approach to representing reality. Foundational webs of wooden and metal support beams are rigged to hold up the photo collages, which shift, bend, and expand at strange angles, leading to distorted cityscapes above and below ground.
Some works are more disjointed, layered, and complicated than others. In Above & Under L-Train (Green Column) (2016), a woman buying a subway card and a man talking to an MTA employee occupy separate frames but are cropped so as to appear together. They are united by certain line patterns and a color palette that will be familiar to any commuting New Yorker—bright yellow, green-blue, and oily black, all cast under a strong fluorescent white light. In Blasco’s New York, the architectural components are fragmented yet fluid, creating an environment that seems both familiar and strange.
New York Aerial View (2015) generates a sweeping bird’s-eye view of Manhattan from a photo reproduced multiple times from various angles. Despite its small scale, the off-kilter image is bold and dramatic yet somewhat baffling with its wild sense of dimension. In Blasco’s words, “the seamlessness of it all seems purposely disorienting.”
“Isidro Blasco: Above and Under L-Train” is on view at Black & White Gallery/Project Space, Brooklyn, Feb. 26–Apr. 10, 2016.