Photographer: Paweł Jaszczuk (born in Warsaw, Poland; lives and works in Warsaw and Tokyo, Japan)
Publisher: Lieutenant Willsdorff, Bordeaux, France, © 2016
Essay: Sophie Knight
Hard cover with sewn binding and black nylon hosiery wrapper; four-color offset printing; 74 pages, not numbered; 44 images; 6×9 inches; printed in Poland by Drukarnia Klimiuk, Warsaw
Photo book designer: Full Metal Jacket, Poland
Photo Editor: Aga Bilska
Photographing extreme, exotic, even “kinky” behaviors has been with us since photography began, and there are many instances in other art forms as well, especially in painting and sculpture, the Dutch painter Kees van Dongen being a good example. Take photography: Weegee (Arthur Fellig) made his livelihood chasing around New York for accident photos and other situations showing people in unusual circumstances (while on the side he also indulged himself producing fine art photography, by the way). Here at The PhotoBook Journal, we recently discussed images of customers in the bars of Vienna as photographed by Klaus Pichler in Golden Days Before They End.
When it comes to Japan, life in their densely populated “megacities” seems especially anxiety-producing, as for instance Michael Wolf has shown in his images produced in crowded subways. Others, such as Nobuyoshi Araki, have shown more intimate and gritty sides of life in Japan in stark monochromatic images.
Here we have Paweł Jaszczuk from Poland, who documents the leisure activities of some Japanese diversion-seekers. Their clothes vary: some indulge in cosplay by acting out different personalities or identities away from the constraints of their straight-laced everyday work existence; others shed their clothes to engage in a variety of activities that suit them. Based on some of the surrounding paraphernalia, we assume alcohol and other substances might also play a role at times. Fetish-based behaviors, involving latex, cross-dressing, uniforms, and other props, abound in the scenes that are shown. Some of the nudity is presented furtively, some of it is brazen.
This hard-bound volume is entirely in color, comes with a wrap-around piece of hosiery (for willful draping of the cover as shown above and/or other uses as the customer wishes!) and is a kind of artful-journalistic compendium of unfettered behaviors, it seems in response to the stress of the work week, as explained in Sophie Knight’s essay: “… you burst like a balloon. The weekend has begun.”
An interesting body of work, part of a genre with precedents, and yet in its own way seductively idiosyncratic and refreshing.