Japanese American Movement Artists Eiko & Koma to Perform Living Dance/Visual Art Installation in Walker Art Center’s Collection Exhibition Event Horizon

Groundbreaking Fall Residency Plays a Central Part in Duo’s Three-Year Retrospective Project

Art forms merge and a gallery becomes a stage when renowned Japanese American movement artists Eiko & Koma create a new “living installation” as part of the Walker Art Center’s three-year collection exhibition Event Horizon. Naked will be performed six hours a day, six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday, November 2–30, 2010. Commissioned by the Walker, this dance/visual art installation will feature Eiko & Koma’s powerful slow movement, filled with intense concentration and performed in an immersive and charged organic environment of their own design. It is the duo’s first prolonged return to a gallery-based living installation since Breath, a monthlong performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1998. Visitors are invited to stay for a few minutes or the entire day, and return numerous times to experience the piece evolve. Each day’s performance will be available on the Internet via a live feed at walkerart.org/naked.

Naked is the focal point of the Walker’s three-month celebration of Eiko & Koma’s acclaimed creative work that will be presented in Minneapolis October through December. The series of programs launches with the Midwest debut performances in October of RAVEN, the artists’ newest staged work, and continues with a three-month film program of their video-dance works and a series of workshops and public interactions. Together with Naked, these programs, as well as a comprehensive monograph to be published by the Walker in May 2011, serve as important components of the artists’ Retrospective Project, a three-year, multi-city survey of their nearly 40-year collaboration.

“Rarely are we invited to literally reside in an environment we create and to be seen for a length of time,” said Eiko. “For one month we plan to be engaged in our kinetic imaginations—that is a gift to ourselves. And this interesting and challenging experiment is also a way to honor our long history with the Walker. To our audience, we say, linger, stay here with your eyes, live, and kinetically observe how our bodies move towards death.”

“Eiko & Koma create stunningly intense, uncatagorizable performance works that live between worlds of dance, theater, visual installation, and timeless ritual,” said Philip Bither, William and Nadine McGuire Senior Curator for Performing Arts at the Walker. “Our commissioning of Naked offers both the artists and our audiences a new opportunity and, along with the retrospective catalogue, caps three decades of Walker support for these essential innovators.”

Born and raised in Japan, Eiko & Koma create works informed by the politics and global cultural movements of the 1960s as well as the democratic and community aspects of life in America (the couple’s adopted home since 1976). Their early but major influences were the teachings of Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, two founders and masters of butoh, the radical postwar Japanese dance-theater form. Drawing additional inspiration from Zen Buddhism and its interrelated properties of nature, silence, repose, and the human body, Eiko & Koma populate their own works, using the tools of duration and process as guideposts. Simplicity, openness, the integrity of organic materials, and a sense of existential confrontation are their longstanding hallmarks.

The Walker Art Center began its relationship with Eiko & Koma at a time of expanding global influences in the national dance landscape. White Dance (1976; their first work) was performed as part of the Walker’s New Dance USA festival in 1981. In separate engagements during the following 15 years, Eiko & Koma presented the Environmental Trilogy: Land, Wind, and River. The last piece, often cited as the launch point of their dedication to site-specific work, took place not on stage, but in the waters of Medicine Lake in Plymouth, Minnesota. In 2002, they staged the world premiere indoor performance of the ritualistic work Offering, originally created outdoors in New York City, near the site of the World Trade Center, in part as a response to September 11, 2001. The Minneapolis presentation was noted for the exquisite grace with which their abstracted bodies seemed to channel the collective sadness of tragedies past. In 2008, the Walker commissioned and premiered Hunger, which featured young Cambodian performers Peace and Charian and a live Javanese gamelan score composed and performed by Joko Surstrino. The piece was later performed at New York’s Joyce Theater.

In collaboration with Eiko & Koma’s Retrospective Project, which takes place in multiple venues and contexts over a three-year period, the Walker Art Center is producing the first comprehensive monograph of the artists’ work. The 320-page catalogue—Eiko & Koma: Time Is Not Even, Space Is Not Empty—will include scholarly essays, an interview, and an illustrated and complete “catalogue of works” detailing each of their projects to date accompanied by reprints of primary materials; short essays on specific works; and a bibliography. Forthcoming in May 2011, it is edited by curator Joan Rothfuss and will include texts by Philip Bither, Suzanne Carbonneau, Doryun Chong, Jan Henle, Anna Halprin, André Lepecki, Sam Miller, and Olga Viso, among others. ISBN 978-0-935640-97-7

Image: Eiko & Koma Walker Art Center


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