Tanaka Koki

By employing a wide range of media and methods, Tanaka Koki artistically explores the possibilities and forms of social engagements. He uses the format of workshops in order to observe collective behavior and action among strangers who have temporarily come together. A Piano Played by Five Pianists at Once (First Attempt) documents interactions and negotiations of five pianists specialized in different music genres such as improvisation, classical and jazz, in response to the given assignment to play “a soundtrack for collective engagement”. The course of action in which participants attempt to create a harmony through democratic processes serves as a metaphor for contemporary society.

Staged in Kyoto City Museum of Art, this work originally comprised documentations of five workshops held with eight high school students. One of the workshops presented here incorporates the history of the place, which had been requisitioned by the American occupation forces following World War II. The participants exchange their ideas in response to key words pertaining to post-war Japan, such as "Self-Defense Forces", "America" and "Hiroshima". Made during a period of heightened debate over Japanese-American security arrangements, the work Provisional Studies: Workshop #1 "1946-52 Occupation Era and 1970 Between Men and Matter” reflects the atmosphere of contemporary Japanese society by capturing the impressions and understanding of the past expressed by teenage students.


Born in Tochigi, Japan, in 1975, Tanaka Koki currently lives in Kyoto. His practices encompass a wide range of media, including video, photography, site-specific installations and interventional projects, in which Tanaka visualizes and reveals the multiple contexts latent in the simplest everyday act. In his recent projects, he documents the behavior unconsciously exhibited by people confronting unusual situations, thus presenting an alternative side of familiar things that we normally overlook. Tanaka was selected to represent Japan in the 55th Venice Biennale (2013) and was awarded a Special Mention for National Participation. He has also participated in various international exhibitions, including the Taipei Biennial (2006), Gwangju Biennial (2008), Yokohama Triennale (2011), Made in LA (Hammer Museum, 2012) and California-Pacific Triennial (Orange County Museum of Art, 2013). In 2015, he was named the Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year.