tokyo

Nobuyoshi Araki

Apt Gallery

While the West has reluctantly reconciled itself to the idea that the Japanese esthetic has two poles, namely the acceptable and distantly austere Zen side, and the gaudy (loosely derived from esoteric Buddhism), it has remained blind to the underbelly: the raucous, seamy, sexual, funky, and gritty, where most people dwell. Nobuyoshi Araki dwells there too, and he documents and celebrates this side of life. At first glance, Araki’s photography is primarily concerned with the denizens of the sex shops from Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. More importantly, however, his work is an accumulation of data. His recent works, such as Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo story, 1989)—the title is an obvious take on the chaste Ozu film—Shashin Ron (Theory of photography, 1989), and especially the works in his book, Heisei Gannen (The first year of Heisei, 1990) are fascinating documents of life in the new Babylon. In

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