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Kohei Yoshiyuki

Kohei Yoshiyuki[plate 31], from the series The Park, Untitled (1971), gelatin silver print [Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver BC, Nov 22-Dec 1]

Kohei Yoshiyuki: The Park

Douglas Udell Gallery
Nov 22–Dec 1, 2007

The Park is an infamous series of black-and-white photographs of couples having sex at night in Japanese parks while other people watch. Originally shot by Japanese photographer Kohei Yoshiyuki in Tokyo’s Shinjuku, Yoyogi and Aoyama parks during the 1970s, the images blatantly depict the sexual exploits of their subjects, both homosexual and heterosexual, and provoke questions about western attitudes towards surveillance and voyeurism.

The Tokyo-born artist originally used a 35mm camera, infrared film and flash to capture the strange scenes. They have been described as “a brilliant piece of social documentation” and “an act of art, evidence, soft core porn and social anthropology.” The predatory and animalistic appearance of the voyeurs in most images is more striking than the sexual acts. The graininess of the images recalls cinéma vérité and ’50s period pornography.

The pictures were first shown life-size in a dark gallery in Tokyo in 1979. The artist provided flashlights for viewing the pictures to conjure voyeuristic sensations. The images from the original show were destroyed and new editions (in several sizes) were only printed again this year by Mr. Yoshiyuki. Copies have now been acquired by such prestigious institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the San Francisco Museum of Fine Art.

The current exhibition includes a series of nine photographs from Yoshiyuki’s 1978 companion project, Love Hotel, taken from videotapes made by clients of one of Japan’s infamous rooms-by-the-hour hotels. 


Mia Johnson

Kohei Yoshiyuki[Plate 24], from the series The Park, gelatin silver print [Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver BC, Nov 22-Dec 1]

 Wed, Nov 7, 2007