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Theoretical Papers

Vol. 6 No. 1 (2021): Visual Spaces of Change: photographic documentation of environmental transformations

Production of Space and Creative Destruction in the Photographic Work of Naoya Hatakeyama




The photographic work of Naoya Hatakeyama is an extensive visual example of how natural resources serve as a fuel of capitalist production. In his three major series – Lime Hills (1986- 91), Lime Works (1991-94), and Untitled (1989-2005) – Hatakeyama focuses on limestone to connect the world of natural landscape with the world of urban built structures. In Blast (1995- 2008), the destructive force of capitalism and its devastating influence on the environment become literal: natural material is being torn into pieces in order to build a city. From exploitation of limestone hills, through the manufacture of concrete, to the construction of skyscrapers in a late capitalist city – the photographs transform the process of annihilation of rural space into timeless evidence of the humankind’s domination over the natural environment. With his photographic bodies of work, Hatakeyama follows the idea of Henri Lefebvre (The Production of Space, 1974) showing how nature is reduced to means of urban space production. What is fundamental to capitalism’s destructive domination over the environment, is not only the possession of space, but also the ability to absorb, produce, and constantly transform it.


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