artist / participant


press release

Koki Tanaka: Vulnerable Histories (A Road Movie)
October 30–December 20, 2020

Art Sonje Center is pleased to present two new exhibitions, Japanese artist Koki Tanaka's solo exhibition, Vulnerable Histories (A Road Movie) and a group exhibition Dust Clay Stone.

In his first solo exhibition in Korea, Vulnerable Histories (A Road Movie), Tanaka presents the titular Vulnerable Histories (A Road Movie), a documentary film produced in 2018. The film mainly focuses on a journey and conversation between two protagonists, a third-generation Zainichi Korean named Woohi and a Japanese-Swiss, Christian. Meeting for the first time in Tokyo, the two of them proceed toward different locations, particularly ones bearing painful memories of discrimination. They visit the sites of anti-Korean demonstrations and acts of hate speech against Zainichi Koreans—who are forced to move Japan during the Japanese occupation—and the place where Koreans were massacred at the time of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Intertwining stories about the small-scale lives of individuals with actual recollections of social and political situations, the work illustrates various issues of identity and complexities of conflict, raising questions about how we might be able to achieve understanding of one another.

In his diverse art practice spanning video, photography, site-specific installations and interventional projects, Tanaka visualizes and reveals the multiple contexts latent in the simplest of everyday acts. In his early object-oriented works, Tanaka experiments with ordinary objects to explore ways offering a possible escape from our everyday routine. Later in his works, Tanaka asking the participants to collectively navigate tasks that in and of themselves are out of the ordinary, he then documented behaviors that were unconsciously exhibited by people confronting unusual situations, seeking to reveal group dynamics in a micro-society and temporal community.

At a time when travel between countries has come to a stop and racial discrimination and conflict are intensifying due to the pandemic, the question of “How to live together?” is becoming at once more difficult and more urgent than ever. As an artist, Koki Tanaka pursues a form of artistic practice that is less about simply assessing reality and reaching conclusions about it than about using highly concrete situations as a basis for laying bare the complexity of reality—and thereby exploring what other means we could find when we face different issues of societies.

Curated by Haeju Kim (Deputy Director, Art Sonje Center)
Project Management by Hyo Gyoung Jeon (Curator, Art Sonje Center)
Organized by Art Sonje Center
Supported by Arts Council Korea