Naoya Hatakeyama

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Fallen Sky: Naoya Hatakeyama goes beneath the earth for art

Naoya Hatakeyama discusses his photographic series Ciel Tombé, which captures the collapsed ceilings of the limestone tunnels below Paris.


Fallen Sky: Naoya Hatakeyama goes beneath the earth for art

Naoya Hatakeyama: Ciel Tombé
August 2012

Naoya Hatakeyama: My name is Hatakeyama Naoya. I am from Tokyo. This series started from my home country. There are many limestone quarries because the land is so old. Limestone is used for making cement and medicines, paper, ink, toothpaste. I have visited so many quarries all over in Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa. At that time, I [had] just started living in Tokyo, the concrete jungle. All the buildings and roads are made of limestone. So one day I realized that the city and limestone quarries [are] like a positive and negative of a single photograph. And somebody told me that there is [the] same kind of composition, not in Tokyo or in Japan—it’s in Paris, yeah? That’s a story about an underground limestone quarry, just under the city of Paris. They used that ancient quarry for catacombs. And you can see so many human bones—some millions of bones. But the imagination, you know: You have a city on the ground—above the ground you have buildings and roads and daily life and people, many things—but under that ground, you have a big cavity. It’s a hollow, empty space. So we made some tours in [a] Paris underground quarry. And I could hear sometimes that they [were] using the word ciel tombé. It literally means “the fallen sky,” but actually it means the ceiling [that] is collapsed and fell down in the tunnel. And I was so inspired by that word, “fallen sky.” “Fallen sky underground.” So complex and so—imaginative? No—yeah? [laughs] So I decided to make a series of the collapsed ceilings in underground quarries in Paris.

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Works in the Collection by Naoya Hatakeyama