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Responses to Platform 2016 | Eiko + Koma
Responses to Platform 2016
photo by Ian Douglas

Responses to Platform 2016 (2016)

Your Platform series was one of the highlights during my twenty-five years while living in NYC.  Dance performances, a reading group, films, videos, a panel discussion and imaginative, provocative, airy installations.  Paradise.  I don't think it's possible–I know, I know, never say "it's not possible."–for another Platform series to present a similarly intense, immersive experience.  OK.  Not likely.  The entire month was just fantastic and I did not want the experience to end.  -- Greg Hendren

Your Danspace series over the past month has been so energizing and inspiring – a real growth experience for me. Thanks so much for all you did.
As a professor of modern literature and exploratory writing and a photographer and painter, my instinctive reactions to the world tend to be grounded in the visual and verbal. But I have also had an underlying awareness of the importance of body and movement as sources of knowledge and ways of grasping reality. When I work on large paintings, for example, body movement is very much a part of the creative process. And in my years in China I had a little bit of training in doing calligraphy, which I also experienced as a “whole body” exercise. So when I watched your performances (as I have many times over the years in many places, including the desert in Arizona) and listened to you talk in the book group about movement in relation to reading and writing, I was already prepared to appreciate what you meant.
This has been the unifying thread of my own experience of your various presentations over the past month. The reading, the dances, the films – oh, the films! The ever-present theme of the suffering body through so many of the films culminating in the two AIDS films on the last night and the transformation of movement into the passionate, joyous poetics of Kazuo Ohno. It was a glorious ending to a superb experience, and I went away from there charged with both high energy and renewed mindfulness. And as a teacher, I think you have done a great service for those young NYU students by getting them to think about some of the major catastrophes of the past half-century.
-- Ronald Janssen

The 24 Hour After Fukushima event, was such a transformative and unique experience for me. Staying from the Conversations Without Walls through to around midnight left me feeling so inspired and with a better idea of my own role as a citizen of the world. This experience allowed me to truly understand what it means to make the distance malleable. There were several things discussed in the panels that tied together some of the loose ends I had from the Platform—I’m going to outline them here:

We are all bodies leaving and arriving—waiting to depart and continue onto the next place. Things go forward, others stay still. There are different versions of time that govern this process of coming and going.

Being in a body is always mourning. Dance is the constant mourning for the passing of a moment. It is also an attempt at resisting the arrow of time that is pointing towards us.

Rather than using choreography to manipulate time and space, Eiko’s work shows what happens when the body, time, and space coexist.

The flows of capitalism are diverting us constantly and have defined our shared notion of time. This is due to the fact that a body that is not producing and consuming doesn’t have much social meaning in our world today.

Being present is a form of resistance: we can use this to combat tragedy and understand our own hesitation.

We have an illusion of separation between us. You are not just in a singular place—you are there.

The idea of the artist as wanderer--Eiko embodies the half-life of elements that last thousands of years. In finding the slowness of these half-lives, she makes them last forever.

Sometimes it’s difficult to change what we do—but we can change the way we do it.

Eiko wants people who see her work to see that she cares in order to connect with those who also care.
  -- Victoria

About Eiko's Solos
At Dashwood Bookstore

Helping set up for this first solo really helped me understand the process of framing and what it means to frame the performing body at a site. Watching from the outside I was particularly interested in how the book titles and portraits of women's naked bodies interacted with Eiko’s moving body throughout the bookstore. Eiko’s body was suddenly engulfed by years of history,
information, and context which later made me think: aren’t we all vessels of centuries of history, context, and information because of the world we live in, the education we (some of us) receive, and the way that information is nowadays easily distributed? This was my first experience of Eiko’s project proposal­ “to make distance malleable.”

At Middle Collegiate Church
When we walk into the church the first thing that caught my eye was the red cloth Eiko carries with her and then I saw her laying down in the center of the church where the chairs were set up. I can see her breathing. Her back muscles moving up and down. Her micro movements are so beautiful­ sort of like watching a baby taking a nap. Having done all of these readings and
watching Eiko for a couple of weeks now I can see her influences from these authors. Eiko like Oe’s “Sheep” transgresses the place in which she is moving but still exists in the moment. When I watch her I travel back into my memory and still create new ones exactly where I am standing. During this particular solo I felt as though Eiko was angry. I don’t know why but I saw it in her
eyes, her movements sharp, she was fidgety. She goes over to her cloth, she holds like a child holds her blanket. Moments later she is shoving it and hiding it in between her legs­­ this made me feel convinced that she was angry during this solo. Is she embodying the anger from the short stories, the anger activists express during marches, the anger one needs to exude in order
to be listened to? No. I don’t think so. This is anger that comes from a deeper place, from a place that holds onto the history of mankind and the pain that we’ve endured on ourselves and each other. You see this when she moves around and with every step she takes to a new place I feel a longing of the heart. I feel like I’m watching someone move away from me and yet is so
close to me. Eiko makes you feel emotional but not enough to make me cry­­ just to reflect on why this performance matters and why it matters to be together with these people in this space and feel the insides of my body and the outer being in the context of the past, present, and future.
At Zurcher Gallery
When we walk into the gallery we are told not to lean against the pristine white walls. They are covered in dark paintings. Beautiful contradictions. Is the darkness or the light emphasized? I can’t decide. Having two different audiences­ the one on the inside and the one outside the gallery was a new experience while watching Eiko. I felt that the people from the outside where watching me and the rest of the “inside” audience more than they were watching Eiko. During this gallery performance I really felt her malleability of time. Eiko’s ability to slow time down. I think I felt this a lot more since I could still see the busy streets outside the window. I concentrated in the different ways Eiko took up the space while being surrounded by us. She
existed in small corners, amongst the visual art, but never really became an object. I still knew she was human, one of us. She, however, has a special power: she connects us to the things we don’t normally think about in everyday life. I thought for example of how much we wish to preserve flowers and keep them alive for a really long time on our dining room tables or counters. Eiko chews them up and spits them out­ an absurd moment when compared the tendencies I have when I think about flowers.

Now that the platform has concluded, I feel I can more properly relate the experience as a whole. As I attended each performance, read each reading, saw instillations and took in the art, I found myself looking at the works as separate cases. I could viscerally feel their connection, but had not quite ventured to fully loop them all together intellectually and emotionally. I am a person who prefers to take in each experience as it happens, totally submersing myself in the present, and then afterwards look at the bigger picture and the span of experience to gain a better analysis with all of the information. With that said, taking in the platform as a single, multi-faceted, interdisciplinary artistic journey, I feel I have grown a great deal as a result. I have learned many things about history, about the artistic process and about the community. More importantly, I have taken in an emotional world not only of my own, but also of an incredibly human and relatable nature. I can feel the essence of the month spent entrenched in these works of dance, literature, photography and performance. I can also feel the presence of the people who I experienced these incredible works and events with. We worked together as an indefinable team of old, young, artist, professor, student, observers who jointly took the action to grow, and to become. I feel the results of the intensely poignant topics brought forth and the people that felt them with me, and I believe that I have absorbed these places – past, present, physical, and human – into my body -- Delaney Otjes