“Quiet, but highly political”: The press on
Koki Tanaka in the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle

For his first comprehensive solo show in Europe, Koki Tanaka transforms the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle into a workshop where he combines projects, ideas, and documents from nearly a decade’s work. This extraordinary project by the 2015 Deutsche Bank “Artist of the Year” also convinced the press.
Two extensive interviews with the “Artist of the Year” already appeared well ahead of Koki Tanaka’s show at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle: “In my projects, the participants wind up in a situation where they really have to think about what collaboration means to them,” explains Tanaka in a conversation with the art magazine Art. “These temporary communities can help us gain insight into ourselves.” And in Monopol, he sums up his artistic approach by asserting that “the most important thing is the process.” The British magazine ArtReview has featured him on the cover of its April issue, in which Hou Hanru, director of the Roman MAXXI and member of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, talks to him at length about his work. For The Culture Trip, an international platform for travel and culture, Tanaka is one of the “top 10 Japanese Contemporary Artists You Should Know.” And Michele Chan of Art Radar remarks: “The world takes notice as a young Japanese artist orchestrates everyday experiences to new levels of transcendence.”

“In a very original way, Tanaka poses the universal question of sustainability, in other words survival,” writes Ingeborg Ruthe in the Berliner Zeitung and the Frankfurter Rundschau. “He transforms the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin into a huge ‘social sculpture’ that’s funny and disturbing and bursting with urgent questions concerning the future of civilization.” For Gabriela Walde (Berliner Morgenpost), the exhibition resembles a “workshop in progress. Everything flows in the current of simultaneity, everything is transition and transformation.” Responding to Tanaka’s “experimental situations,” Sabrina Schleicher (Kunstzeitung) speaks of works that are “both humorous and intelligent,” quoting Britta Färber, curator of the show: “Tanaka’s art resembles a constantly growing archive that shows us the various different possibilities and impossibilities of collaborative action.”

In the lifestyle magazine U-mag, Frank Schreiber writes: “in Tanaka’s work, politics, community, and art enter into a symbiosis—one that also happens to look fascinating.” And in Tagesspiegel, Anna Pataczek writes that “while Tanaka’s art is quiet, it is nonetheless highly political.” Raimar Stange (Artmagazine) takes a different view of this: “Tanaka touches upon ticklish questions, but his pretty-looking ARTivism doesn’t really venture into any political depth.” Will Furtado (Sleek) is also not quite convinced by the artist’s current works, although he finds the earlier videos “inspiring” in which Tanaka experiments with everyday objects.

“I cannot remember any other exhibition as thought-through and thought-provoking as the current show at KunstHalle,” writes Ira in the digital lifestyle magazine 2-French. Tip and Zitty, the two most important Berlin city magazines, recommend a visit to the exhibition as do Kulturnews, Berliner Abendblatt, and Kulturradio. And Marie Kaiser, the art critic at Radio Eins, is also a fan: “Koki Tanaka tells banal stories from everyday life, but in the process he brilliantly breaks through our certainties and habits.” Kunstmarkt.com writes: “Koki Tanaka poses the question as to how we behave in an exceptional state, what we do when the situation becomes ‘precarious,’ technological and social systems falter and we have to find solutions with others (…) this is where the utopian potential of his tasks lie—to not merely dream up more social forms of community, but to experience them, too.” Silke Hohmann takes a similar view in Monopol: “Especially in the collaborative video pieces, Koki Tanaka’s works evince a quality that plays a far too meager role in the public perception of art: to confidently oppose commercialization and efficiency.”