Kohei Yoshiyuki, “The Park”, 1973

Kohei Yoshiyuki, “The Park”, 1973

A pretty good article to introduce an interesting photographer for those who don’t know of him. I remember reading about Kohei Yoshiyuki’s series “The Park” quite a few years ago when the internet as we know it was still young. It was such a strange project I thought, though I also thought it was pretty amazing.

The subject matter of voyeurism and Yoshiyuki’s choice to photograph the night voyeurs instead of the couples getting down in various parks in Tokyo inherently brings up an array of privacy issues, which as the author notes, feels relevant in the #MeToo era and the general lack of privacy felt online these days.

When I first saw them those type of issues were not on my mind. I was more fascinated by this curious subculture. In places like New York City, San Francisco or any major American city, this type of stuff is pretty common, though from what I know, mostly in the gay male community. Cruising in parks is common knowledge and it wasn’t unusual to stumble upon a couple of guys doing their thing while walking your dog or crossing Buena Vista Park when I lived in San Francisco.

However, I don’t really recall seeing a lot of voyeurs (although I’m sure they were around) and again, there were no straight couples that I heard of that used the parks regularly as hook up spots. I know plenty of people who’ve had sex in public but not the way the people in Tokyo were going about it. I suppose it was partly the freewheeling 70’s and partly the cramped living in Tokyo that led the people to the parks. Maybe a dash of exhibitionism as well. Either way, it makes for good thinking about a man with a camera 40 plus years ago, running around in the night and watching the watchers, and making images of them for us to really make this exercise in voyeurism astounding in it’s degrees of separation.

Fun stuff.