Larry Craig was an innocent. This photograph is one of a series:
Kohei Yoshiyuki's photographs of Japanese having sex at night in Tokyo's public parks, which ran at the Yossi Milo gallery in New York and now moves to the Doug Udell gallery in Vancouver on November 22, are revelatory in much the same way. They would simply be tawdry and exploitive if they weren't also, like the Craig saga, so odd and funny. The behavior they record has to my knowledge never been recorded before on film. In an essay that accompanies a reissue of The Park, the long out of print book that for most people has been the only source until now about Yoshiyuki and his work, the critic, Vince Aletti, calls them "among the strangest photographs ever made".
Taken between 1971 - 1979 at a time when sex all over the world was more crazy-casual than it is now, the pictures show both straights and gays getting their rocks off under trees and on the bare ground.
Yoshiyuki shot with infrared film and a discreet electronic flash so that he himself was all but invisible. The figures loom in the foreground as bright smears, their limbs entangled and eyes glowing monster-like from the tiny explosions of light. Faint traces of the city can be seen in the distance in a few pictures. But civilisation is for the most part beyond the frame, as black night swallows the actors in primeval darkness.
(Hat tip: 3QD.)
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