Happy Victims - Kyoichi Tsuzuki At The Photographers' Gallery

By Corinne Field | 25 September 2003
Shows a photograph of a bedroom full of colourful possessions, there are clothes hanging up on coat hangers all round the room, while at the bottom of the shot a woman is reclining under a blanket.

Photo: Anna Sui - Behind a suburban railway terminus, in an archetypal middle class "family condominium" is this "hers-and-his" love nest. Kyoichi Tsuzuki: Happy Victims.

Leaving the designer labels at home, Corinne Field travelled to London for a snoop around other people's wardrobes.

Happy Victims at the Photographers’ Gallery is Kyoichi Tsuzuki’s first UK solo exhibition at a public gallery.

It is a series of photographs of Japanese urbanites surrounded by their designer clothes collections and is on display until November 16.

Born in 1956, Kyoichi Tsuzuki is a journalist, editor, art curator, nightclub designer, book publisher and, most recently, photographer.

Shows a photograph of a room strewn with clothes. To the right of the shot there is a row of hanging shirts and t-shirts.

Photo: Comme des Garçons - A condo near a station in the north of Tokyo. Kyoichi Tsuzuki: Happy Victims.

He spent ten years writing reviews for Popeye and Brutus, publications that focus on art, architecture, design and urban life in Tokyo and has authored over 30 books.

But he is best known for two photographic books, Roadside Japan (1996), an alternative guidebook to the country, and Tokyo Style (1993), about adapting to life in the city’s cramped living spaces. As you enter the exhibition there is a selection of his past work on display.

Tsuzuki says, "I’m a journalist not an artist. I think of myself as a mediator who exposes the creative power of unknown artists, the man in the street, in the country, everywhere in the world".

And his latest exhibition, Happy Victims, is about a specific man on the street, the one-designer-obsessed fashion victim. His photographs are beautifully composed and his subjects are indeed artistic. But most importantly Tsuzuki tells a good story.

Shows a photograph of a room strewn with clothes, some hanging up on a curtain rail above a window, while a woman is kneeling on the floor looking down at the guitar she is playing.

Photo: Jean Colonna - her reason for fancying the Jean Colonna line was that "the shop manager had such an attractive character". Kyoichi Tsuzuki: Happy Victims.

Each picture is named after a designer and captioned with a paragraph about the anonymous collector - what they do, where they live and how they came to be obsessed with designer labels.

The colourful photographs show tiny rooms overflowing with clothes, shoes and accessories. Some neatly arranged on racks, others strewn across the floor, drawers overflowing. In most the owner of the collection is in shot, rarely looking at the camera, sometimes lying down, at other times out of focus in the background.

A Buddhist monk is pictured lying on his bed surrounded by patterned shirts hanging from rails and logo emblazoned t-shirts neatly folded on the floor. He visits his Tokyo condo religiously once a month where he throws off his monks’ robes and worships at the shrine of Comme des Garcons.

"Japan’s top Gaultier customer", her own description, began her flirtation with the designer after buying a pair of trousers that didn’t fit.

Shows a photograph of bedroom full of brightly-coloured clothes, which are hung up all around and strewn on the bed which is to the left of the shot. At the centre a woman is seated with her feet tucked up on a chair.

Photo: Vivienne Tam - Right beside the railroad tracks is a colourful little jewellery box of a one-room condominium. Kyoichi Tsuzuki: Happy Victims.

She dieted until they did and has been hooked on Gaultier ever since. She says, "My husband says with all the money I’ve spent we could have built a house".

An instructor at Bunka Fashion College, nicknamed "Maestro Margiela" and one of the designer Martin Margiela’s biggest fans, is crouched on the floor behind a uniform row of shoes and beneath racks of pressed shirts. His room is immaculately tidy.

The caption says he’d rather eat out than risk infusing his clothes with cooking smells so he keeps only eardrops in the refrigerator and has never used the cooker.

Happy Victims is a photo documentary that takes Tsuzuki back to his journalistic roots.

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