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Eiko Otake's Solo Exhibition at Asian Arts Initiative

Published: September 12, 2023 at 5:48 PM

Asian Arts Initiative is pleased to present I Invited Myself, vol. III: A Body, a solo exhibition of media works by internationally acclaimed movement artist Eiko Otake (b. 1952, Tokyo). Eiko worked for more than 40 years as Eiko & Koma, and since 2014, she has performed and directed her own interdisciplinary projects. For Eiko, going to places is her movement work. Editing footage and designing an exhibition is an experimental “choreography.” After five decades of an active performance career, Eiko, now in her early 70s, is compelled to explore how she can create a time and space where people can come and see her body and movement in her videos and photographs without necessarily her live presence. This is a core concept of this artist-initiated project. “I want to create media works only a performer can make. If a viewer chooses to give ample time and attention to each piece, ‘a different kind of performance’ happens between she and I. Her seeing becomes a uniquely personal experience, in which I wish to linger.” Each volume of the project includes exhibitions, screenings, and public conversations along with performative interventions and installations. Its multi-volume form enables Eiko to collaborate with curators in creating programs and selecting works that consider space and the missions of each presenting organization as well as her history with a community. Co-presented by Asian Arts Initiative (AAI) and The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM), I Invited Myself, vol. III in Philadelphia is a two-part exhibition. Part One, I Invited Myself, vol. III: A Body at AAI (on view September 9 through December 9, 2023) features Eiko’s lone body moving within different landscapes and absorbing what they hold. Part Two, I Invited Myself, vol. III: Duets at FWM (one view November 9, 2023 through March 24, 2024) highlights her collaborative projects with artists of different races, identities, cultures, disciplines, and ages. The first iteration of I Invited Myself was presented by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and the second iteration was shown at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Co-curated by Joyce Chung, Curator at AAI, and Eiko, I Invited Myself, vol. III: A Body features primarily her recent dance-for-camera works never shown in Philadelphia. In visiting such places as irradiated Fukushima, a quarry in Sweden, and the hills of Wyoming, Eiko finds traces of human violence. She moves in mourning, not to forget. In all places, including Tokyo where she grew up and New York where she lives, Eiko intentionally presents her body as a “foreigner” because, she says, “immigration is a never-ending process.” To contextualize her current practice, her early work from the 1980s and two documentations of her occasion-specific public performances will be also shown: Eiko’s first solo performance of 12-hour-long A Body in a Station (2014) at Philadelphia’s 30th St. Station, commissioned by Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), and A Body in East Village (2016), a creative archive of her month-long solo project presented as part of Danspace Project’s Platform.

To see the work of Eiko Otake is to become acutely aware of raw emotions that are universally felt but uniquely experienced. Watching her movements in space is like being conscious of your own pulse—the moments when it races, slows, or becomes almost undetectable. Her work dwells meaningfully in the territory of what it is to be alive and what it is to be moving around and towards death... —Stacy J. Platt DARIA ART MAGAZINE