Born in 1958 in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Currently lives and works in Tokyo.Read More
Hatakeyama has been exploring the relationship between nature and contemporary residential environments. He photographs places ranging from material-production sites such as stone quarries, coal-mine facilities, and steel plants to “end products” such as a major avenue in Tokyo. By capturing both production sites and end products, Hatakeyama’s photographs are reminders that even the most polished residential environments derive from raw nature. Although Hatakeyama’s images depict humans’ constant manipulation of nature’s solemnity, his contemplative and formalistic eye eschews outright criticism of efforts to reshape natural environments. In essence, his photography questions the notion of urbanity and quietly observes the negotiation between “nature” and “culture.” The negotiation reached a critical point when the giant Tōhoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck his hometown in March 2011. Hatakeyama captured the devastation visited upon the city after the quake. This entirely unexpected—and, thus, improvised—series of photographs exceptionally reveals an outcome of such negotiation and imbalance.
Hatakeyama was born in Rikuzentakata City, where limestone mines and cement factories were prominent. Indeed, as a high school student, he often sketched those facilities. Hatakeyama studied photography at the University of Tsukuba and completed his master’s degree in fine arts in 1984. Kiyoji Ōtsuji, a photographer associated with the vanguard Japanese art group Jikken Kōbō, played a crucial role as a mentor to Hatakeyama during his studies.
Hatakeyama started to photograph limestone quarries in 1986, and the result was his first series, Lime Hills (Quarry Series) (1986–1991). In it, Hatakeyama captured the quarries from multiple vantage points: the photographs showcase the beauty of the artificially textured land’s excavated curves as they stretch out in varying directions. The limestone quarries are points of origin for both Hatakeyama and indeed the entire country, as the photographer was born and raised near the quarries and as limestone has been one of Japan’s rare abundant resources.
In the series entitled Blast (1995–present), Hatakeyama has been expanding his photographic involvement with limestone quarries, capturing the very moment at which manufacturers detonate explosives at the sites. In this series, Hatakeyama has been using motor drives and remote-control technology to capture the moments of detonation from a distance. The stunningly beautiful images highlight the ability of cameras to capture scenes that cannot be seen by the human eye. In this way, Hatakeyama has been visualizing the delicate balance between nature and human intervention—a balance in which the sublimity of nature stands in a curious state of co-existence with explosive violence.
Hatakeyama produced the series Terrils (2009-2010) while residing in France’s Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in 2009 and 2010. Hatakeyama photographed conical slagheaps in the region where the coal mining industry had once flourished. His images illustrate an interesting symbiosis between people and slagheaps: some of the slagheaps are covered with trees and naturalized whereas one of the slagheaps has been turned into a ski slope.
Hatakeyama’s career took off in the mid-1990s, as he received the prestigious Kimura Ihee Photography Award in 1997 both for his publication Lime Works and for his exhibition Maquettes. He participated in the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001 and the 13th Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2012, the latter of which won him the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. Hatakeyama’s first retrospective show in the United States was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2012, after being held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography during the previous year.
Both national and international exhibitions have showcased Hatakeyama’s photography, as have several publications. Collections featuring his works have been presented by such institutions as the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Yale University Art Gallery, the Swiss Foundation for Photography, la Maison Européenne de la Photographie, the Tate Gallery, the International Center of Photography in New York, the aforementioned San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Text by Yuko Fujii
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