abstract speaking

sharing uncertainty and collective acts

Japan, Natural Disaster, Venice Biennale
15 x 21 cm
Original Language


The Japan Foundation has invited the artist Koki Tanaka and curator Mika Kuraya to provide the Japan Pavilion contribution to the 55th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, opening 1 June 2013. Koki Tanaka and Mika Kuraya will address through a video installation the theme, "How is it possible to take on the experiences of others as one's own?" abstract speaking sharing uncertainty and collective acts is the publication released on the occasion of the exhibition.

Having experienced the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, a disaster on an unprecedented scale, what message should Japan be sending to the world? This is the question that inspired the plan proposed by Tanaka and Kuraya, who have experienced the disaster indirectly through the likes of power cuts and damage caused by radiation in Tokyo. As for the awful experiences of people who lost close relatives, whose houses were destroyed, or who had to leave their sphere of life due to the nuclear accident, the only apparent means of accessing these are to harness our powers of imagination and to not forget.

Having said that, however, might it not be possible to explore the possibility of people who have experienced this disaster, regardless of the scale or depth of that experience, as well as people living in countries or regions far removed from the disaster—a category that most likely includes the majority of visitors to the Biennale—and even people of future generations separated from it by time (and perhaps not only this disaster, but the wars and other calamities that will no doubt occur in the future) sharing their experiences in some form or another?

Tanaka's video-installation proposes turning the Pavilion into a platform for sharing these experiences through a number of projects that set up distinct "tasks"—tasks which place participants in and prompt them to deal with unusual situations, making reference either directly or indirectly to various aspects of unforeseen events such as disasters.

About the Artist
Born in 1975; currently lives and works in Los Angeles. In his diverse art practice spanning video, photography, site-specific installation, and interventional projects, Koki Tanaka visualizes and reveals the multiple contexts latent in the most simple of everyday acts. In his recent projects he documents the behavior unconsciously exhibited by people confronting unusual situations, e.g. a haircut given by nine hair stylists or a piano played by five pianists simultaneously, in an attempt to show an alternative side to things that we usually overlook in everyday living.