Shinjuku Kabukicho Project



Shinjuku Kabuki-cho is a mecca of sex industry in Tokyo. Mauyama situated this work for two days in Shinjuku Kabuki-cho Park, which is a small park in the middle of a sex industry area where porn shops and those serving the sex business gather. Shinjuku Kabukicho Project is a work that imitates a typical electric sign box for porn peeping rooms, that are commonly seen in the Kabukicho sex industry, with flashy catch-phrases to draw attention of passers by. When people look through the peep-hole of the sign box timidly expecting something erotic, they find a very embarrassing video image of themselves peeping. They see a monitor that shows them shot in real time by three hidden video cameras. The three different shots of them are projected one by one by an automatic selector. They are humiliated by realizing that their positions are reversed from peeping to being viewed.

During two days of installation, this electrical sign box attracted people from all walks of life - from children, homeless people and business men, to sex industry workers - like a light trap drawing moths. According to the video that documented the installation of April in 2004, 66 people actually peeped into the box, apart from those who belong to the art world.

In the marketing of Japanese sex industry, it is a cliche to use indirect phrases that remind us of sex. Masuyama applied such indirectness by using the phrases like "No limit for watching embarrassing poses!" or "Safe! Free!" Japanese tend to create their sex fantasies from such indirect expressions rather than direct ones. This subverive project tries to take advantage of this sad tendency to create and play with a misunderstanding.

Shinjuku Kabukicho Park, Tokyo

April 2004

Photo: Masaya YOSHIMURA