Saluting Eiko & Koma
photo by Anna Lee Campbell

Saluting Eiko & Koma

  • San Francisco Chronicle, March 14, 2012
  • Tamara Straus

The Japanese performance art duo Eiko Otake and Takashi Koma Otake - better known as Eiko & Koma - have made San Francisco their second home since the late 1970s, presenting myriad works and collaborating with a wide variety of Bay Area artists, including Joseph Krysiak, Irene and Paul Oppenheim, Patty Ann Farrell, Kazu Yanagi, Bob Carroll, George Coates, Chanticleer, Joseph Jennings, Kronos Quartet, Anna Halprin and Joan Jeanrenaud.

To celebrate Eiko & Koma's long history in the Bay Area, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is presenting a two-week residency titled "Retrospective Project" documenting their 40-year collaboration. It starts tonight with the West Coast premiere of "Fragile," a performance installation by Eiko & Koma and the Kronos Quartet, which is half stage piece and half living installation. During the four-hour performance, which repeats Friday and Saturday, viewers are invited to experience the work from multiple viewpoints and to stay as long or as short as they wish.

" 'Fragile' reflects on the ideas of nakedness and fragility in a way which has been powerfully moving for me as a musician," says David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet, who conceived the installation's musical setting. "Eiko and Koma's bodies become metaphors for the universal, fragile nakedness we try to hide. Their bare skin and awesome, slow movements become a story of communal privacy. To me, this is the precise area where music is most alive."

The second week of Eiko & Koma's residency is devoted to a performance of three iconic works from their repertoire, together titled "Regeneration." The evening begins with their latest stage work, "Raven" (2010), a haunting duet that unfolds on scorched canvas strewn with black feathers, and ends with a distilled version of "White Dance" (1976), the first piece they made together and their first to be shown in the United States. In between they reprise "Night Tide" (1984), examining the way body and landscape blend. Tickets are $10: www.ybca.org.