Eiko Otake

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2012

New York, NY

Raised in Japan, and based in New York since 1976, Eiko Otake collaborated with Koma for 40 years in performing their choreography worldwide. Eiko & Koma also created three “living” gallery installations: Breath (1998) for the Whitney Museum, Naked (2010), for the Walker Art Center, and The Caravan Project (2013) for MoMA. Their multi-faceted Retrospective Project (2009-2012) consisted of new and restaged works, exhibitions, media works and a monograph of their works, Eiko & Koma: Time is Not Even, Space is Not Empty published by the Walker Art Center. Eiko & Koma received Guggenheim Fellowships, the United States Artists Fellowship, MacArthur Fellowship, the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award, and the Dance Magazine Award. Since 2014, Eiko has been working on her first solo project, A Body in Places. Photo exhibition A Body in Fukushima, a collaboration with photographer William Johnston, tours with the project.

  • Eiko Otake- Eiko & Koma's 38 Works (1976-2011): http://vimeo.com/32785534
    Eiko & Koma's 38 Works (1976-2011)
  • Photo Credit: by Gregory Georges
  • Eiko Otake- A Body in a Station (2014): /110638080
    A Body in a Station (2014)
  • Photo Credit: Jay Westhauser
    Raven (2010)
  • Eiko Otake- A Body in Fukushima (2014): /121611745
    A Body in Fukushima (2014)
  • Eiko Otake- Wake (2011): http://vimeo.com/48892373
    Wake (2011)
  • Photo Credit: William Johnston
    A Body in a Station
  • Photo Credit: William Johnston
    A Body in Fukushima
  • Photo Credit: William Johnston
    A Body in Fukushima

Suppose you just met someone who didn't know your work, what project from the past 10 years would you direct them to as an entry point to you and your work, and why?

Video Medley: Eiko & Koma's 38 Works (above)

This is the question we faced in preparing our Retrospective Project, particularly our exhibitions. In a museum, unlike in a theatre, more people stumble upon us without knowing who we are. So as a point of entry, I created this video medley by choosing short clips to represent each piece we ever had a video of. Because most of our works are slow-moving and full evening length, it felt brutal to make the cuts, but 38 works were put together into a mere 38 minute stretch. Not only could people smell the essence of each work, but a quick glance of that many years shows two immigrant artists aging, but staying profoundly stupid and spirited. Some variation but not much. Not wiser, not better, but perhaps more naked, more intimate and more stubborn. This I say with some pride.

In the gallery space, I was surprised to see how people actually watched this video for a long time, often the whole thing. Now I always carry the DVD in my purse so I can give it away to strangers. That is my invitation.