New Book Catalogs Sakamaki’s Early Work

Tompkins Square ParkQ. Sakamaki’s reputation as a photographer is based on his documentary skills: he has photographed conflict and suffering the world over. He has documented the painful lives of sex workers in Bangladesh and the destruction of the Liberian civil war.

But Sakamaki’s new book, Tompkins Square Park, is an exploration of Sakamaki’s roots — his work before global conflict. The images in Tompkins Square Park, are older, dating from the years when Sakamaki was first settling in New York City after leaving Japan and a career in advertising. Sakamaki moved to the East Village in 1986, living among and photographing the abandoned and decaying buildings of the area. Those photographs now comprise Tompkins Square Park.

The photographs have subtle touches of hope among the poverty of the area. The book is full of images of protestors and others working to improve that desperate time in the East Village