MINNEAPOLIS (October 1, 2010) – 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 Event Horizon exhibition showcasing the collections.
Naked will be performed six hours a day, six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday, November 2–30. Commissioned by the Walker, this movement/visual art installation features Eiko & Koma’s live bodies as they move in an immersive and charged organic environment of their own handcrafted 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.
Naked is the focal point of the Walker’s two-month celebration of Eiko & Koma’s acclaimed creative work that will be presented in Minneapolis October through November. The series of programs launches on October 2 with the Midwest debut performances of Raven, the artists’ newest staged work, and continues with screenings of their dance videos, a workshop with Eiko, and a Talking Dance program with the artists and McGuire Senior Performing Arts Curator Philip Bither.
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, 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 Bither. “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 a variety of individual artists they have encountered. They studied with Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, two artists credited with saving Butoh, but left Japan in their early 20s to cultivate their own path.
After studying in Germany with Manja Chmiel, a disciple of Mary Wigman, Eiko & Koma moved to New York in 1976, where they have lived and worked since.
Drawing inspiration from interrelated properties of nature, silence, repose, and the human body, Eiko & Koma construct their own works, mindful of both the design of time and space as well as the body’s spontaneity and surrender. Simplicity, openness, and the integrity of organic materials are their longstanding hallmarks. Yet viewers also sense existential urgency underneath their apparent calm.
The Walker Art Center began its relationship with Eiko & Koma at a time of expanding global influences in the national dance landscape. White Dance was their first work performed in 1976 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. The piece was originally created outdoors in New York City, near the site of the World Trade Center, to invite both viewers and the artists themselves to sustain their mourning for 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. http://www.eikoandkoma.org/