Subway Series…

Exhibit by Rodney F. James

Subway Series…presents to the viewer a collection of photomontages captured throughout the NYC Transit System. They are a visual documentation of subway billboards where layers have been ripped and peeled away by the masses, uncovering previous ad campaigns. The resulting tableaus consist of serendipitously revealed components of visual media language used by advertisers to sell a product or idea to the public.

The ephemeral nature of these uniquely individual montages is the driving force behind the use of a smartphone camera as an immediate and valid tool to capture such chance encounters. Once recorded, the social app Instagram is used specifically as a post-production editing tool to enhance brightness, contrast and saturation of color only. What is contained within the frame and seen by the viewer is untouched physically upon capture, or through postproduction manipulation of form.

Each image framed is an installation in itself. They are each printed 16″ x 16″ on multiple layers of transfer film, using a white backboard as a vehicle of illumination. Each print is installed within an 18″ x 18″ white window mat and frame. They are intentionally presented within the confines of a formal gallery aesthetic as a visual comment on the appropriation of ‘vandalism’ and street art within the established art institution. Well-known artist like Basquiat and Keith Haring were once considered vandals perpetrating acts deemed illegal on the streets. More contemporary artists like Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada (founder of the Culture-Jamming Movement) and Banksy, whose stenciled graffiti work was once considered vandalism – are not only embraced, but are at the forefront of the Public Art Movement today.

Subway Series… strives to open up dialogue exploring ideas of ‘high art’/’low art’, the role of the art institution, sociopolitical activism/commentary versus artistic intent, and the aesthetic appreciation that takes place at these intersections.


Rodney F. James

MFA – Long Island University

A photo-artist hailing from Brooklyn New York, Rodney James’ approach to photography reflects a lifelong engagement with the pervasive quality of media throughout the world. He combines both analogue and digital mediums using social media platforms as both a creative source and artistic tool. Rodney’s work embodies an in-depth exploration and reflection on his idea of the ‘media object as subject’, dissecting the ever-present visual language in our lives which fundamentally influence the various ways we perceive ourselves as individuals, as well as a collective society.

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