Aperture Magazine

The magazine of photography and ideas

Inside a Japanese Legend's Latest Book

At the Japan Society, Aperture Members enjoyed a rare glimpse into Naoya Hatakeyama's artistic process.

 - March 20, 2018

On Wednesday, February 28, Aperture Members and Trustees gathered at the Japan Society to celebrate the release of Naoya Hatakeyama’s book Excavating the Future City, copublished by Aperture and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Following a brief introduction by Yukie Kamiya, director of Japan Society Gallery, Members had the rare opportunity to hear Hatakeyama in conversation with Aperture’s creative director, Lesley A. Martin. Hatakeyama, speaking through a translator, mentioned artists such as Stephen Shore as early influences on his work. The pioneering use of color by Shore’s generation and their turn “toward the social landscape” informed Hatakeyama’s photographs of environments altered by human construction and industrial intervention.

Much of Martin and Hatakeyama’s talk revolved around the artist’s best-known series, Blast. From 1995 to 2006, Hatakeyama photographed quarry explosions, capturing from a natural formation to the raw material for construction. A stop-motion video, Twenty-Four Blasts (2011), was projected in the front of the room, bringing to life his original series. Hatakeyama also shared how his practice was deeply marked by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The evening brought supporters of Aperture Foundation and Japan Society together to engage with an artist who, as Kamiya noted, is able to “focus on the transformation of the city . . . and still find what is [uplifting] after a hopeless situation.” Hatakeyama concluded the event by signing copies of the book.

Naoya Hatakeyama (born in Iwate Prefecture, Japan, 1958) is included in some of the most important public collections in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He co-represented Japan in the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, and presented his first solo museum exhibition outside of Japan in 2002 at Kunstverein Hannover. Hatakeyama’s work was also included in Japan Society’s presentation of In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11 in 2016, originally organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Excavating the Future City is copublished by Aperture and the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) on the occasion of Excavating the Future City: Photographs by Naoya Hatakeyama, curated by Yasufumi Nakamori and on view at Mia through July 22, 2018.

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