Naoko Tanaka


“Lights, shadows, images, sound and movement… I use them to create a spatial structure. The result is a form of sculptural poetry, which reflects the concurrence of what is invisible and what is visible. Within this structure, the immaterial becomes material. This allows us to experience our own mental capabilities in a tangible manner.”

Absolute Helligkeit / © Henryk WeifenbachAbsolute Helligkeit / © Henryk WeifenbachAbsolute Helligkeit / © Henryk Weifenbach



As a little girl, she played ‘Kage Okuri’, sending shadows. She intensely studied the shadows that her body cast and then gazed up into the sky, where the after-image formed a white silhouette. In her art, Naoko Tanaka devotes herself to light, shadow, sound, space and movement. As a visual artist and performer, she persistently and consistently explores the extent to which inner life or projection is part of the outer world or reality. After ten years of performing with Morgan Nardi as the artist duo Ludica and living in Düsseldorf, she moved to Berlin and has premiered two solos since 2011: the award-winning “Scheinwerferin” and “Absolute Helligkeit”. These are pieces for a single human being (herself), light and multiple objects. With the aid of strips of film, cardboard boxes, paper, reflective foil, bent cutlery, lights and shadows, she conjures up masterfully captivating moving images. With the help of a small torch, the shadow of a table is transformed into railway tracks, skyscrapers, proliferating mangrove forests, fences and barbed wire, roads and a house with table and chairs ¬– a black world on white curtains. In “Absolute Helligkeit”, she focuses a penlight as the sole source of light onto drawers that resemble birds on stilts, spitting out their paper, while we see a tangle of twigs, hear birds – and an exitus as the finale. For Naoko Tanaka’s wonderfully magical, lucid visual worlds are anything but harmless – if we do not overlook that and send our own shadows.
Katja Schneider

Absolute Helligkeit (2012)
solo, stage 10 x 8, 40 min

Die Scheinwerferin (2011)
solo, stage 9 x 6 m, 30 min



Naoko Tanaka studied painting and visual arts at the Tokyo University of the Arts and came to Germany in 1999 on a scholarship from the Kunstakademie (Academy of the Arts) in Düsseldorf. Since then, she has been developing a distinct artistic language of her own and a creative form in which choreography and visual art are tightly intertwined. In 2010, she was invited to the GERMAN DANCE PLATFORM with “The Corner” as part of the artist collective “Ludica”. In 2011, Tanaka produced her first solo piece “Die Scheinwerferin”, for which she herself developed the concept, the stage, sound creation and performance. Amongst other awards, Tanaka has received the Prix Jardin d’Europe in 2012, as well as the ZKB Recognition Prize that same year at the Zürcher Theaterspektakel. After “Absolute Helligkeit”, she will premiere the third part of her series of solo installation performances in autumn 2014.