Katsu Naito (born 1964) is a Japanese photographer. He presented his first international exhibition (West Side Rendezvous) at Nepenthes in New York City on October 21, 2010.
Hi Katsu, please introduce us to Harlem.
Harlem will show different faces to you depend on one’s feeling towards. You can visit to listen to Jazz or to have soul foods for a night. You can come here to buy drugs or weapons if that is your desire. You can walk around in the area and to feel a history of Harlem and street cultures.
I lived on the 3rd floor in an apartment building over 5years and it facing Saint Nicholas Avenue and had seen many activities through my windows. DJ playing music and people dancing for a block party in Summer, 2 man fist fighting, Drug dealing and countless time of shooting gun and the worst scenario is someone to end the life on the street.
It is needleless to say what’s Harlem is known for but in despite of its bad name, there are things you can feel good about. It’s about people. I would not find their inner beauty if I was not living in Harlem.
How do you hope the readers will react to Harlem, ideally?
Harlem has changed a lot since these photographs were taken. I am very open for reaction and would leave it up to the readers.
Did you have any specific references or sources of inspiration in mind while working on Harlem?
When camera changes, the way of seeing would change so as photograph. But there is one thing would not change. How close can I get to the subject is always on my mind.
I believe the comfort zones come with you, people and the vibes around. I really wanted to photograph Harlem with eyes of its resident in a natural way. I was constantly looking for a connection with Harlem through my Lens.
Why did you decide to document the Harlem district? What fascinated you the most? Did you find any difficulty in this documentation?
It’s feeling and an intuition. The things I felt when I ‘ve visited Harlem for the first time in 1986. The City Scape, Street Lives and People. No matter how comfortable I get in the street, I always watch my back for own safety. I didn’t like that feeling.
Choose your three words to describe this experience
A Scary, Exciting and Homy.