Jennifer Yoffy’s Favorite Book from 2019

The Park by Kohei Yoshiyuki.   Published by Radius Books/Yossi Milo.

I have long loved Kohei Yoshiyuki’s Park photos — surreptitious nighttime captures of lovers and voyeurs in Japanese parks in the 1970s. The couples he captures in the midst of their furtive sexual exploits are blissfully unaware of not only Yoshiyuki’s camera, but of the throngs of Peeping Toms inching so close to the lovers that they can, and occasionally do, touch them. Shot on infrared film with flash, the raw, snapshot-like quality adds to the effect that you, the viewer, are complicit in this visceral, voyeuristic fetish.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the series, The Park was reimagined in a gorgeous monograph from Radius Books and Yossi Milo Gallery. The multiple essays (on different paper stock), the division of the work into four sections, and the documentation of the Japanese zines where the work was originally published are all wonderful elements. The over-sized format allows us to indulge and more fully enter the scenes, and the coating over the images gives them a slightly rough texture (in contrast to the smooth white surround) that’s just plain seductive. I can’t stop looking.

Jennifer Yoffy is a publisher and arts advocate based in Atlanta, Georgia.