Yossi Milo Gallery Announces New Edition of Kohei Yoshiyuki's The Park
Yossi Milo Gallery and Radius Books are pleased to announce a newly-designed, definitive publication of Japanese artist Kohei Yoshiyuki’s iconic series The Park, including the complete set of original images from the 1970s, as well as never-before-seen photographs from the early 80s.
Over forty years ago, Kohei Yoshiyuki positioned himself in Tokyo’s parks at night with a 35mm camera and infrared film, poised to observe and document an underground aspect of Japanese culture. Today, his images are more relevant than ever, addressing universal issues of surveillance, voyeurism, and privacy. In 1979, when the work was first shown publicly, it threw open a window onto how Japanese people saw themselves: they were both shocked and intrigued. The redesigned, anniversary edition of The Park promises to engage a new audience that may be unfamiliar with Yoshiyuki’s work, but one that is far more accustomed to observing the private lives of others.
As Martin Parr wrote 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.” The work has continued to provoke myriad reactions for decades: Is it a chronicle of Tokyo at night, when three of the city’s most famous public recreation areas would take on second lives and transform, fairytale-like, into places dark and fantastical, bristling with other people’s secrets? Or is it a revelation about a culture that, despite its flair for the fanciful and outlandish, remains relatively conservative and private? Certainly it is easy to see images from The Park as either.
This authoritative new edition of The Park features eight unpublished images, as well as documentation of the sold-out 1980 Japanese publication, Document Koen [Document Park], that pre-dated the 2007 Hatje Cantz/Yossi Milo edition. An accompanying exhibition marking the fortieth anniversary of Kohei Yoshiyuki’s conclusion of The Park series will be held in 2020 at the gallery.
The Park is a unique contribution to the annals of Japanese post-war photography, capturing that brief, weird liminal period of the country’s history, its awkward adolescence between the bleak sixties, a decade of loss and defeat, and the eighties, when Japan once again seemed on the verge of ruling the world. Kohei Yoshiyuki reveals a hidden city at night, where inside the folds of darkness couples and groups are released from life’s constraints. Onlookers hiding in bushes, lovers, and off-stage participants are all caught in flagrante by his camera.
The full press release and publication details may be viewed here.