Yuji Agematsu
Yuji Agematsu, 2020, exhibition view Secession 2021, photo: Sophie Thun

Yuji Agematsu


March 26 – June 20, 2021

Secession is happy to present Yuji Agematsu’s day-to-day collection of urban detritus finds turned into miniature sculptural formations from the entire 2020 calendar year. Displayed in custom-made acrylic glass shelves that represent monthly calendar sheets, and alongside diary entry notebooks, his 2020 zips offer a fresh and decidedly unique review of a most remarkable year.

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 city life. 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 materials undergo a process of 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 archive 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 and fascinating objects, which are—first and foremost—sculptural organizations comprised of overlooked city waste.

Yuji Agematsu, born in 1956 in Kanagawa, Japan, lives and works in New York.