Naoya Hatakeyama's photography presents a meticulous, ongoing investigation into the conflictual relationship between people and nature.
Embracing a wide range of themes, he devoted his first series to limestone quarries (Lime Hills, Japon, 1986-1991). In Underground (1999), he explored the urban and underground rivers of Tokyo. He returned to his first subject of choice some ten years later by photographing the limestone quarries beneath the streets of Paris (Ciel Tombé, 2007)… Next up was Blast, a series of images that Hatakeyama began in 1995, in a thought-provoking report on explosions in open quarries … Deeply moved by industrial transformations, he was invited to photograph the coal mines and industrial wastelands in the Rhineland in the winter of 2003 and presents us with powerful images of the Westphalia coalmine (Zeche Westfalen I/II Ahlen, 2003-2004). Showing abandoned industrial structures and blown-up factories, his large-format colour photographs accompany and transcend the landscape. In 2009-2010, he photographed the slag heaps, artificial hills piled with mining waste, in the mining area of Nord Pas-de-Calais.
In 2011, Naoya Hatakeyama created his most personal work to date. After the earthquake and tsunami that struck the Pacific coast off the Tohoku region in Japan, on 11 March 2011, he flew to the town of Rikuzentakata where he was born to photograph what remained in the wake of its devastation. Kensegawa, his book that was published in 2013, paints a portrait of this ravaged region. Alongside poignant images capturing the chaos, he presents shots taken several years earlier, between 2002 and 2010, when the town was bustling with life ... For Naoya Hatakeyama, photos are a memory-preserving medium. They collect together the very last traces of a past forever behind us.
The series on display in Chaumont-sur-Loire convey the magic of the dangerous game we play with nature - forgetting the tragic consequences of our repeatedly destructive measures. Through fascinating images of an altogether serious beauty, Hatakeyama catches our eye with scenes to which we would not have given time of day, but which immediately spark environmental awareness within us.
Naoya Hatakeyama au Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, 2015 -© Éric Sander