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Hoffnungsträger 2011

Naoko Tanaka

(by Katja Schneider / TANZ –the yearbook 2011)


Nuances of white and pastels, the harsh flicker of shadows and filigree patterns, cubes made from coloured filters and a door which opens briefly, temporarily allowing noises, voices, colours and light to flow into the white, aseptic room - Naoko Tanaka’s wonderfully lucid visual world, brimming with magic, appears before us. It has a playful and light essence but still retains gravitas.


Naoko Tanaka, originally from Tokyo, used to be based in Düsseldorf where she performed with the dancer and choreographer Morgan Nardi in the artists’ collective Ludica. Ten years on, now based in Berlin, she has begun a solo career. 'Die Scheinwerferin', her first solo project, is a revelation. 

It is a journey along the body of a doll, her alter ego, and into the shadows of a table. From underneath the table she casts shadows using a small torch creating a black world on white curtains. A railway track, high-rise buildings, luxuriant mangroves, fences and barbed wire, roads and a house with a table and chairs all come to life. The images meander between clear constructions and blurred shadows, swaying between a world of dolls and the apocalypse. Naoko Tanaka uses film strips, cardboard boxes, paper, mirror foil and bent cutlery to conjure enchanting moving images of light and shadows. 

But what delights the spectator further still is that in this solo creation, Naoko Tanaka presents not only a metaphorical world, but also reflects on the presence and absence of the body on stage. The viewer does not forget the artist that becomes immersed in the shadowy underworld of the table. Sometimes her eyes watch the shadow-play or her long hair floats across this world. Suddenly, she devours the tracks, houses and mangroves in an instant and we comprehend the virtuosity with which the artist manipulates the light, body and room and her expert combination of different formats. 


With 'Die Scheinwerferin', Naoko Tanaka astutely flicks all the right switches. I am eager to see what she will produce next. 

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