Retail on Broadway

Walking the entire length of Broadway—the thoroughfare that stretches from New York City’s Financial District in the south to the northern tip of Manhattan—Nobutaka Aozaki constructs a biographic snapshot of the city by meticulously recording the names of every ground-floor retail business, depicted here in text.The central space symbolizes Broadway with the left and right text representing businesses located on the East and West sides of the street.

An ongoing project since 2018, the textual map rendered here reveals the evolution of the city’s neighborhoods along Broadway, noting shifts in the urban fabric. In a new performative reading choreographed by the artist, invited guests give voice to the project by reciting the business names from 2020. The audio from this event, scheduled on October 8, 2020 from 6 –8 PM EDT, will be featured here. This conceptual portrait examines the meaning of urban adaptation and change, a notion that is further underscored by Broadway’s origins as an important Native American trail.

Grocery Portraits

In this peripatetic project, Nobutaka Aozaki takes explorative walks, gathering found items from the sidewalk throughout New York City. Taken together, his findings of discarded debris become a diaristic account of city life. In Grocery Portraits (2020), Aozaki has collected shopping lists discovered during his urban expeditions in Manhattan. Using this variety of shopping lists—scribbled on post-it notes or scrap pieces of notebook paper—as a starting point by simulating an experience of an anonymous fellow citizen, the artist shops for each item listed and creates a still life portrait of the collection of groceries. The resulting photographs, shown here alongside the original shopping lists, each with their distinct handwriting in different languages, convey something of the cultural habits and personal qualities of the city’s diverse human inhabitants.

Artworks courtesy of the artist © Nobutaka Aozaki