Nares’s mesmerizing video comprises a deceptively simple succession of pans along Manhattan streets and avenues. Shot from a moving car with a high-speed camera, Nares projects the footage in slo-mo, giving it a sense of the uncanny. People caught in the act of (literally) pedestrian movements appear frozen, almost stationary, and their arrested motion in front of more rapidly passing backgrounds recalls the 3-D effects of 19th-century stereographs. Street combines the qualities of still photography and moving images, making us pay exacting attention to things we normally overlook: a passerby’s feet hitting the ground just so, fleeting expressions drifting across strangers’ faces, urbanites interacting without interacting. Street looks at humanity, represented by the denizens of New York, in all the glory of its unattractiveness and beauty. It is a Whitmanesque masterpiece.
Accompanied by two galleries of art chosen by Nares from the Met’s collections—ranging from street photography to fragments of ancient Egyptian and Roman sculptures—Street owes something to Bill Viola’s portentous vivifications of Old Master paintings and even more to Neil Goldberg’s loving examinations of the gravity of the everyday. A longtime New Yorker, Nares is better known as a painter of sinuously liquid abstractions that emphasize the trace of his brush (those works can be seen at the Paul Kasmin Gallery until June 15). Like his canvases, Street records the poetry of the passage of time.—Joseph R. Wolin