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Naoya Hatakeyama, #202, 2006, from the series New York/Window of the World; from Naoya Hatakeyama: Excavating the Future City (Aperture/Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2018)

Work / Photography

Naoya Hatakeyama’s photographs of Japan’s contemporary topographies embody “the death and rebirth of cities”

There are many photographers who focus their lenses on the landscapes that surround us. Some travel for vast rolling open spaces, while others look to their familiar urban settings to build a narrative. Japanese photographer Naoya Hatakeyama sits somewhere between these two camps, examining the lifespan of building a city over the last 30 years, culminating in a new book Excavating the Future City.

Across his numerous series Naoya focuses “on a different facet of the growth and transformation of the urban landscape,” from blasts of limestone explosions, the gradual towering growth of inner city architecture, or reconstructions in his own hometown in northeastern Japan following a tsunami. In turn, each “keenly composed image captures phases of creation, change, and destruction over time in Japan’s contemporary topographies,” explains the books publisher, Aperture.

Although basing his projects largely in Japan, Naoya’s career travels the country as a whole. As a result his photographs are representative of Japan across decades and cities, collected in some of the most important public photographic collections across the world, even co-representing the country in the 2001 Venice Biennale. Excavating the Future however is the first comprehensive survey of his work, also placing his photographs in an academic context with in-depth essays from Yasufumi Nakamori, the curator and head of photography and new media at Minneapolis Institute of Art, Japanese architect Toyo Ito and French writer Philippe Forest.

Within the mix of text and image that Excavating the Future City spans, Naoya’s photographs “hauntingly embody the death and rebirth of cities, not just creating a record of their past and present, but also providing a possibility of imagining the projecting their future,” says the publishers. Whether it’s in wide panning shots of construction sites, eerily lit tunnels underneath cities, the various qualities of limestone, or just a number of metal grates leaning precariously against a city building site, Excavating the Future City “is a paean to the ongoing intersection of nature, the city and photography.”

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Naoya Hatakeyama: 2011.05.02, Takatachō-Morinomae , from the series Rikuzentakata; from Naoya Hatakeyama: Excavating the Future City (Aperture/Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2018)

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Naoya Hatakeyama: #6411, 1999, from the series Underground; from Naoya Hatakeyama: Excavating the Future City (Aperture/Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2018)

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Naoya Hatakeyama: #3203, 2008, from the series Yamate Dōri; from Naoya Hatakeyama: Excavating the Future City (Aperture/Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2018)

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Naoya Hatakeyama: #004, 1993–94, from the series River Series; from Naoya Hatakeyama: Excavating the Future City (Aperture/Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2018)

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Naoya Hatakeyama: #08316, 1999, from the series Blast; from Naoya Hatakeyama: Excavating the Future City (Aperture/Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2018)