It’s been established that the Naoya Hatakeyama show at SF MOMA is the best art exhibit happening right now, so I’ll just cut to the chase and show you my favorite picture from it: Underground 6109, from the “Ciel Tombé” series.
This is Hatakeyama’s most romantic series. It shows the world of underground limestone quarries that were used to build Paris, imagining historical equality between the subterranean worlds beneath us and the great cities above. Unlike most of his work, which tends to be ruthless in its composition and its realism, these pictures are cosmic, almost whimsical. Paris makes dreamers of us all.
It helps that I walked around the corner before coming face-to-face with this picture*; I wouldn’t have felt so moved without that moment of displacement. I might not have even caught that the shot, with its whorls of light moving around a cement pipe like cake frosting, was an ambiguous illusion. But it is — look once, see the pipe. Look twice, see a waxing moon. My unconscious inferences failed me for just a moment and the world fell away. The picture, with all of its resonance of the cosmos, was all that there was. A porto di mare, a safe place to store passion.
Copyright Naoya Hatakemaya
*Yeah, I know it’s shaky. I didn’t like any of the scans on the Internet and the security guard was sniffing around behind me.