Kohei Yoshiyuki, ‘The Park (Plate #049)’, 1973, Blindspot Gallery

The Park is a series of black and white photographs taken in Shinjuku, Yoyogi and Aoyama parks in Tokyo during the 1970s. With infrared film and flash, Yoshiyuki photographed people who gathered at night at these parks for trysts behind the bushes. The images also documented how “outsiders” lurked in the bushes to watch and to touch the couplings in action. As Martin Parr writes in The Photobook: A History, Volume II, 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.”

Series: The Park

About Kohei Yoshiyuki

While working as a commercial photographer in Tokyo, Kohei Yoshiyuki took a nighttime stroll through a public park, stumbling across what would become the subject of the strange, disturbing series for which he is famous: couples having sex and the moth-like voyeurs who watch them. Titled “The Park” (1970s), this series of black-and-white photographs was shot with a handheld camera and infrared film. Raw and grainy, the photographs capture the voyeurs from behind, as they surreptitiously approach the couples. The voyeurs-eye view implicates Yoshiyuki, viewers of his work, and photography itself in this violation of privacy. “My intention was to capture what happened in the parks, so I was not a real ‘voyeur’,” he explains. “But I think…the act of taking photographs itself is voyeuristic somehow. So I may be a voyeur, because I am a photographer.”

Japanese, b. 1946, Hiroshima, Japan

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Acts of Intimacy: The Erotic Gaze in Japanese Photography