Vulnerable Histories: Interview with Koki Tanaka
By Becca Voelcker
Artist Koki Tanaka, who is best known for his videos, installations and performances probing the radical potential of mundane objects and actions, completed his first feature film, Vulnerable Histories (A Road Movie), in 2018. Originally shown as an installation at Zurich’s Migros Museum of Contemporary Art, the film proposes a patient, discursive form of activism to confront racial discrimination in Japan. Combining documentary and essayistic modes, the film stages a series of conversations between Woohi, a Japan-born, third-generation Korean (zainichi) woman living in Tokyo, and Christian, a half-Swiss, half-Japanese-American man. The pair, who have never met before, discuss discrimination from several perspectives, drawing from legal sources as well as their own experiences to explore identity politics rarely discussed in Japan. Consensus is questioned by the film’s multiple chapters and reflexive ending.