Kohei Yoshiyuki’s project, The Park, created in the 1970’s, will have it’s West Coast premiere at the M+B Gallery in Los Angeles, running from March 13-April 24th. As someone who lived in New York for many years, the idea of sex in a public park is not a new one. These images pack a powerful punch and Martin Parr put it best when he stated: “The Park is a brilliant piece of social documentation, capturing perfectly the loneliness, sadness and desperation that so often accompany sexual or human relationships in a big, hard metropolis like Tokyo.”
Shot in three Tokyo parks during the early seventies, The Park is a series of black and white photographs capturing couples meeting up for clandestine trysts and, more provocatively, the voyeurs who came out to watch them. First exhibited in 1979 at Komai Gallery in Tokyo, the uproar surrounding his methods caused these photographs to be hidden from the public for the next 28 years. Mr. Yoshiyuki first stumbled upon this hidden world while photographing skyscrapers in front of Chuo Park in Shinjuku at night when he witnessed a couple having sex and quickly discovered an entire scene of young lovers—and their peepers. He soon returned with an inconspicuous 35mm camera, a filtered flash and infrared film, and began shooting these hetero- and homosexual couplings, along with their spectators lurking in the bushes.
What is particularly striking about this series of photographs is not the graphic nature of the sexual acts portrayed, which are usually obscured by other figures or occur out of frame, but the densely packed tableaux of voyeurs who crowd in on the couples and sometimes attempt to join in.
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