[April 29 2015]
French-American William Klein is largely known as a photojournalist and filmmaker, somewhat notorious for his strong opinions on foreign policies, and renowned for use of the everyday as a way to question the political. Polka Galerie’s Tokyo 1961 + William Klein presents a sampling from the artist’s travels to Japan in 1961, a period during which he was guided through the strange and graphic world of underground Tokyo, shooting escorts in their private quarters, drag queens in strange clubs and boxing painting matches performed in the nightly streets alike. The photographs were first published in 1964 by Zokeisha Publishing, however were recently released in a new edition in 2014 as a collaboration between Polka Galerie and Japanese publisher Akio Nagasawa. The Tokyo-series, as like much of Klein’s body of work, appears technically limited, yet intentionally so: the blurred, slanted compositions become visual idioms for the direct and unadulterated relationship between photographer and subject, affirming the political—not to mention aesthetic—power of intimacy.
Text and photo Sabrina Tarasoff