Deutsche Bank honors Koki Tanaka as its “Artist of the Year” 2015

Deutsche Bank has announced its “Artist of the Year” 2015: The Japanese Koki Tanaka follows Wangechi Mutu (Kenya), Yto Barrada (France/Morocco), Roman Ondák (Slovakia), Imran Qureshi (Pakistan), and Victor Man (Romania) as the sixth international artist to be honored with this award. In 2015, the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin presents Tanaka’s first major solo show in Europe.

“Koki Tanaka is one of the most original artists of his generation to emerge on the global art scene in the last decade. A shrewd observer of the most ‘indifferent’ matters of the everyday, he always manages to magically transform them into fantastic events with a sense of humor, offering open but pungent implications that reveal the uncanniness of existence,” writes Hou Hanru, artistic director of the MAXXI in Rome, in a statement on the jury’s selection. “On the other hand, Tanaka, a global trotter, is also a savvy mobilizer of collective actions and encourages sharing and exchange among participants to produce a common sense of creativity and imagination while probing new rules of negotiation and collaboration. Tanaka's work represents an inventive approach toward exploring the question of community making—a truly important issue in today's aesthetic and political experiments across the world.”
The award was given on the recommendation of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, comprised, along with Hou Hanru, of the renowned curators Okwui Enwezor, Udo Kittelmann, and Victoria Noorthoorn.
Stefan Krause, the Deutsche Bank board member in charge of the global art program, explains: “Koki Tanaka forces us to see everyday things with new eyes. He represents a new generation of artists who connect their aesthetic concerns to social issues. This corresponds perfectly to Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art.”

Koki Tanaka, born 1975 in Tochigi, Japan, lives and works in Los Angeles. He became known through installations and actions in which he implements everyday objects and material found on site. A major part of his work consists of participatory projects that incorporate actors and exhibition viewers.

Tanaka represented Japan at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, where his unsettlingly simple experiments proved that collaborations can pose a huge challenge: how do we treat one another, how do we treat things? What happens when nine hairdressers cut a woman’s hair all at once, or five potters craft a ceramic vase together? The experimental teamwork also reflected on the Fukushima catastrophe, which forced people to band together and form communities. Tanaka is interested in communication, power, and ethics—but also in the aesthetic quality and form of the collaboratively produced work of art.
In his early works, Tanaka was involved as an active participant and still defined the general parameters of his work. Now, however, he leaves the making of the artwork up to the participants, whose actions and decisions dictate the result—without the artist’s input. He described his Biennale works as follows: “You might say that these are proposals for an ideal situation in which an artist accomplishes his work thanks to the kindness of others. They are invitations to people to step out of their daily routines and participate in an orchestrated situation where you can experience what it means to fruitfully engage with ‘strangers.’”

Currently, works by Koki Tanaka can be seen in group exhibitions at the London ICA and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.  

Positions – Five projects in dialogue
Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
7/5 – 10/12/2014

Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
6/25 – 9/7/2014