25 may - 3 august 2013
Polka galerie

Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre


Galerie Polka presents from May 25th to August 3rd, Gunkanjima, the new works by the french duo Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre produced during two trips in 2008 and 2012.

"During our visits to ruins, we always try to focus on remarkable buildings, whose architecture embody the psychology of an age and a system, and we observe the metamorphosis of the process of decay", explain Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

Hashima, the Japan mining town exploited by Mitsubishi Corporation until 1974 sits on a boulder off the coast of Nagasaki. It will soon be recognized as a world heritage site.

Nicknamed Gunkanjima ("battleship island") because of its warship-like silhouette – sixty-one ghost-like buildings have invaded this six hectares island – the atoll reached its population peak in 1959. The population was then 1390 inhabitants per hectare within the residential district.

Despite its appearance, this unique place was not a "Japanese Alcatraz". Everything was organized in a way that created a link between the world, the workers and their family: movie theaters, bars, restaurants, schools, mall, hospital.

"The depersonalized, violent and rational architecture of the Gunkanjima community seem to be the expression of a collective ideology and shows a devotion to mining production and to the company", pointed out the photographers. 

In 1974, emptied of all its resources, Gunkanjima was abandoned, left to its own devices, in the middle of the ocean.

Through this new project, which follows work on the ruins of Detroit and on Americans Theaters (still in progress), Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre show their tenacity and ability to investigate places that become the relics of our contemporary system. Lulled by an apocalyptic atmosphere, their images do not need additional comments. They speak on their own.