Yuji Agematsu is a kind of chronicler of our times and, moreover, he can be considered an experimental cartographer and archivist of only seemingly petty findings from the streets of his hometown.
An urban flaneur, Agematsu has taken daily walks through the streets of New York ever since he moved there from Japan in the early 1980s. On this daily routine, which has now been part of his artistic practice for more than a quarter-century, he picks up and scrutinizes litter that attracts his attention—bits of paper, gum, scraps of plastic bags or wrappers, a feather, in short: otherwise overlooked evidence of the hustle and bustle of the city. If found worth collecting, he drops the find into a cellophane sleeve of a cigarette packet (a container the artist names “zips”) and notes date, time and exact location of the item’s discovery in a small diary.
Back in his studio, the found discarded things undergo a process of selecting, composing, securing, organizing and cataloguing: the artist waits and reworks a chosen discovery before fixing it with resin—one micro-sculpture a day—and in doing so accumulates a continually growing collection of miniature readymade still lifes that is structured by day, month, year. The objects are dated and presented on acrylic glass shelves or more protective acrylic glass boxes that encapsulate a complete month’s findings where they are arranged in orderly rows following the pattern of the related calendar sheet. The strict and discreet presentation format allows all attention to be focused on the idiosyncratic objects, which are—first and foremost—sculptural formations of urban detritus.
Secession is happy to be able to present Yuji Agematsu’s day-to-day collection of finds turned into sculptural formations from the entire 2020 calendar year. On show at the beginning of 2021, his 2020 zips will offer a fresh and surely unique review of a most remarkable year.