Steven Meisel and Kohei Yoshiyuki

Steven Meisel, from Dogging, V56

Steven Meisel, from Dogging, V56

This came out a while ago and has been posted about elsewhere, but Steven Meisel’s shoot “Dogging” in V56 is a boldfaced ripoff of Kohei Yoshiyuki’s seminal series, The Park. Yoshiyuki received a lot of press and attention over the past year and a half, with The Park exhibited at Yossi Milo Gallery and included in the Berlin Biennial and Gwangju Biennale in 2008.

Kohei Yoshiyuki, Untitled, 1971 from The Park

Kohei Yoshiyuki, Untitled, 1971 from The Park

There is a precarious line between drawing inspiration from another artist and simply copying their work. The Park was highly stylized to begin with, and Meisel turns it up another notch by infusing fantastic colors. It’s odd however that the editors (or Meisel) decided to cloak the series as an “original” commentary on current sexual mores among British youth, called “Dogging,” when in fact the source material was clandestine trysts — homo- and heterosexual — in 1970s Japan. Is this a process of Westernizing the content? It’s not exactly news that advertising and editorial content lift strategies from the “avant-garde” arts, but I wonder what was gained by Meisel’s shoot rather than running the original images. The shoot certainly doesn’t highlight the clothes, so what it is presenting is an lifestyle oriented. I’d be better convinced of the validity of the concept, except it doesn’t appear that Meisel has added anything, merely transporting Yoshiyuki’s form and edginess into a new context.

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