My previous subway pieces had dealt with the seen and the unseen. I often thought of the visible part, the station itself, as simply the tip of the iceberg: a small, visible manifestation of the miles and miles of track that lay below, invisible. In Subway with Silver Girders, I included the track for the first time and found that this immediately set up an opposition between the track and the platform or station. On one level, I thought of the platform as being public and male and the track as being private and female. I thought of the track as it moves out diagonally from the platform as representing infinitely expanding possibilities. I saw the track area as a rhythmically flowing river overhung by trees and vines, a “jungle” full of life and unharnessed potential, unknown, underestimated, and possibly dangerous. It is the area of fantasy and the future.
The station with its platform and tower is the City of Night on the edge of the river. This city, which appears at first to be ordered and rational, is on closer inspection found to be locked, congested, full of obstacles, and in the end, nightmarish and irrational. The tower is warmly lit and inviting, but this is misleading for it is inaccessible. The tower is in fact a control tower, but in the track the conduits are darkly tangled. Is the control tower the palace of an old order? The control does not seem to reach very far. One thing is certain. The track expands outward, growing ever wider and more complex.
Photo credit: Peter Aaron/ESTO