Everything is Everything


Koki Tanaka ( Japanese, 1975 )

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General Description

The eight-channel video installation, Everything is Everything, was first created for exhibition at the 2006 Taipei Biennial, curated by Dan Cameron. For this work, the artist and two assistants spent a total of eight days recording their interactions and interventions with readily available items, including hangers, cups, towels, an air mattress, and toilet paper, all found around the city of Taipei. The physical properties of these objects were tested (a metal hanger is stretched to its breaking point) or their uses were expanded (a level placed on two table legs becomes an impromptu hurdle). Tanaka and his assistants experimented with these objects multiple times both indoors and in public, and their exploits were compiled into eight distinct video loops ranging in length from 1:19 – 1:50 minutes. Tanaka’s tightly-cropped framing of each scene often features the performers from the neck down or removes them from the shot altogether, thus focusing the viewer’s attention on the objects and the simple, repetitive acts being performed.

Tanaka’s work is deeply indebted to Minimalism as well as the legacies of Mono-ha and Arte Povera as evidenced by their shared interest in exploring the physicality and formal beauty of quotidian objects through processes of repetition and encounter. However, Tanaka’s lighthearted use of humor in this work is unique to the artist’s own generation of young Japanese artists emerging in the early 2000s. As critic Midori Matsui explains, “[r]esponding to the economic recession and limited opportunities of the time, they [Tanaka’s generation] turned to everyday life for moments of perceptual awakening. Using banal things in a playful way and documenting, by video, the isolated surfaces and movements of objects, Tanaka disrupts conventional relations between objects, treating them as mere things released from any utilitarian function or human intent and thereby evading prescribed ways of seeing the actual world.” [1]

[1] Midori Matsui, "Reviews, Koki Tanaka," Artforum, Summer no.10, 2009, 359-360.

Adapted from

Gabriel Ritter, DMA unpublished material.

Web Resources

  • YouTube
    Watch Koki Tanaka, Single screen edit of Everything is Everything (2007).