Model of the Montréal Courthouse Annex, Canada, CCA Collection, Architect Ernest Cormier, ca.1925, Unknown photographer.

Naoya Hatakeyama's Photographic Exploration into the Nature of Scale

New York/Tobu World Square, CCA Collection © Naoya Hatakeyama, 2003-2004.

New York/Tobu World Square, CCA Collection © Naoya Hatakeyama, 2003-2004.

New York/Window of the World, CCA Collection © Naoya Hatakeyama, 2006.


Canadian Centre for Architecture
1920, rue Baile
Naoya Hatakeyama: Scales
September 27, 2007-February 3, 2008

Naoya Hatakeyama: Scales, features works commissioned by CCA. Japanese artist Naoya Hatakeyama has created three intriguing photographic series of architectural models that challenge notions of scale and the perception of reality. Conceived by Hubertus von Amelunxen, visiting curator of the CCA Photographs Collection, the Tangent exhibition series seeks to bring contemporary artists into dialogue with the CCA’s rich collection.

Presented in the Octagonal Gallery, the exhibition comprises the three series New York/Window of the World, New York/Tobu World Square, and Tokyo/Mori Building. Also on view are five photographs selected by Hatakeyama from the CCA Collection that portray models developed by architects of the modernist period, a crucial time during which the camera became instrumental in capturing and disseminating a new architecture. These works show the strategic use of the camera to influence the perception and understanding of buildings, whether built or conceptual, as well as photography's power to act upon and transform the model.

Inspired by these images, Hatakeyama has photographed existing architectural models of New York City and Tokyo. In a series that recalls a modernist aesthetic, black and white images frame the model as if the photographer was standing on the streets of New York. Another model of the same city is transformed into a series of rhythmic, colourful geometric compositions that borrow from the vocabulary of painting. In the third series Hatakeyama creates large panoramas that simulate aerial views of Tokyo and present the city as an infinite accumulation of buildings and infrastructure. His works shift scales and perspectives, creating the illusion of a real city from its representation or emphasizing the model as a reproduction.

Naoya Hatakeyama: Scales is the fourth and concluding exhibition in the Tangent series, following presentations by British artist Victor Burgin (2006), German artist Dieter Appelt (2005), and Canadian artist Alain Paiement (2003).

Hatakeyama’s New York/Window of the World (2006) is a series of nine 26.5 x 18.5 cm chromogenic colour prints of an architectural model of New York from a theme park in Shenzhen, China. Shot from above, the photographs offer a bird’s eye view of the “city” yet reveal in their details the structure, haphazard assembly, and bright toy-like colours of the model. The resulting images are jumbled compositions of colours and geometric forms that veer toward abstraction.

New York/Tobu World Square (2003-2004) is a series of twelve 21.3 x 16 cm gelatin silver prints showing streets and skyscrapers of New York City. On a scale of 1/25, the model in Kinugawa, Tochigi (Japan), is a detailed yet idealised recreation of the city that juxtaposes a selection of famous sites. In contrast to New York/Window of the World, Hatakeyama convincingly portrays the model as the real city, while offering subtle clues to its status as a replica. The dramatic perspectives and high contrast of light and shadow recall the celebrated photographs of Manhattan from the 1930s such as those of Berenice Abbott and Alfred Stieglitz.

Tokyo/Mori Building (2003) depicts a complex scale model of the city of Tokyo that was built by the developers of the Mori Building in 2003. The five 103 x 80 cm gelatin silver prints form a panorama of aerial views conveying the vastness of the city, its buildings, parks, highway systems, and infrastructure spreading beyond the edges of the each image. In his earlier series Untitled 1989-2001, Hatakeyama combined 70 photographs of the real city of Tokyo taken from a great distance. His fictional aerial views presented at the CCA create a similar impression of an architectural model. The photographs portray Tokyo as a totality, yet evoke the uncontained urban development common to megacities around the world.

The five works from the CCA Collection range in date from 1925 to 1950 and include Canadian architect Ernest Cormier’s photograph of a model of his Montréal Courthouse Annex; a perspective of Martin Wagner’s model for the Alexanderplatz competition in 1928; an image of two Russian architects standing over their model of a projected building complex in Soviet Russia; Lucien Hervé’s presentation of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation de Marseille as a kit of parts ready for assembly; and finally, a photomontage that integrates Oscar Niemeyer’s design for an apartment hotel project into an idealized landscape. The photographs embody various visual strategies developed by the architects that serve to convey their ideas about their projects by manipulating reality.

The three series by Naoya Hatakeyama commissioned by the CCA were featured in the solo exhibition Draftsman’s Pencil (6 January to 25 March 2007) in the context of the Artists Today series at the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura, Japan. Tokyo/Mori Building is also presented as part of Global Cities from 20 June to 27 August 2007 at Tate Modern in London.

Naoya Hatakeyama is one of Japan’s leading photographers. Since the mid-1980s, the Tokyo-based artist has created a body of work concerned largely with the relationship between nature and cities. His Lime Works series, a study of the landscapes and architecture of limestone quarries, received the 22nd Kimura Ihei Memorial Photography Award in 1997. In 2001 he was the recipient of the 42nd Mainichi Award of Art for Underground (1999), an exploration of the normally unseen tunnels, rivers, and ecosystems of Tokyo’s sewer network. During the same year he was chosen to represent Japan at the 49th Venice Biennale. In addition to numerous solo and group exhibitions, Hatakeyama’s photographs are found in public collections including the National Museum of Art, Osaka; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Swiss Foundation for Photography, Kunsthaus Zürich; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition, published by Nazraeli Press with essays by Naoya Hatakeyama, Hubertus von Amelunxen, and CCA Photographs Curator Louise Désy.

New York/Window of the World, Collection CCA © Naoya Hatakeyama, 2006.


Tokyo/Mori Building, CCA Collection © Naoya Hatakeyama, 2003.