Viewer or Voyeur? Kohei Yoshiyuki and the Love Hotel

It has now become the Open Eye Gallery’s turn as part of the Liverpool Biennial 2012 to host Kohei Yoshiyuki’s exhibition The Park and Love Hotel. The hotel captures frozen images trapped in a stack of television screens of couples in a pay hourly Japanese hotel seeking voluptuous pleasure.

The Park consists of a series of black and white photographs capturing sex scenes in a Tokyo park. Both are explicit in content but despite the Park and the Love hotel being shown in different ways they run coherently together in the exhibition. As you walk in to the Open Eye Gallery you are immediately confronted with the voyeuristic theme in Kohei Yoshiyuki’s love hotel. The photographs taken from a pay hourly hotel in Japan are erotic and sinister.

The photos are displayed on nine stacked televisions in a CCTV style giving the impression of live sex scenes. Due to Yoshiyuki not including faces unintentionally we become spies watching the couples and groups engaging in sexual activity; it is as though the subjects of the photograph are unaware of us watching because they are so engrossed in their very much self-indulgent activity they have lost all control which creates a dangerous and almost alarming atmosphere.

The idea of the viewer taking part in Yoshiyuki’s work doesn’t stop there! The Park is exhibited in a pitch black room where viewers have to navigate their way through the exhibition with a torch. Again the viewer becomes actively involved with every step of their journey through the park, as one discovers yet more exhibitionist groups and oversexed couples with the flash light. The portrayal of lovemaking is absent in these graphic and somewhat brutal scenes of humans fornicating in the bushes.  As you uncover the photographs with the torch you can’t help but feel that you are following in Yoshiyuki’s footsteps as you discover the lustful goings on of The Park as Yoshiyuki found them in the 1970s.

This exhibition offers you an insight to the underground Japanese urban life of the 1970s. Yoshiyuki’s exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery is said to echo that of his controversial exhibition in 1979 at the Komai Gallery, Tokyo. Make sure you too become one of the ‘Unexpected Guests’ at Yoshiyuki’s first UK solo exhibition which ends on the 25th November.

Kohei Yoshiyuki’s photography is at the Open Eye Gallery this month. For more visit www.openeyegallery.co.uk

words Alice Wilde

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