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Bodies by Eiko and DonChristian Jones | Eiko + Koma
Bodies by Eiko and DonChristian Jones
Photo by Alessandra Gomez

Bodies by Eiko and DonChristian Jones

Eiko and DonChristian Jones collaborated in this free admission event to create and perform a movement installation, "bodies," at the public plaza in front of the Columbia University's Lenfest Center for the Arts. Curated by Alessandra Gomez, [Into Darkness: exploring me and finding you] was a part of MODA Curates, an annual opportunity offered by The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery and the MA in Modern and Contemporary Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies Program for curatorial proposals related to students’ theses.

In "bodies," Eiko and DonChristian created a duet that started slow but built a sense of urgency and emergency quickly, constantly in reference to the place they were in and its history. They acknowledged, through social media posts prior to the event, that Columbia is currently a gentrifying force in upper Manhattan and that just across the street from their performance was the site of the Manhattan Project. Through their performance, they reminded audiences that this space was not some neutral arts square, but rather full of past and current meaning and harm. The performance concluded with the projection of a video of their rehearsal in the area a few days earlier. That video has now been combined with footage of the performance to make RUN! Practice and Performance.

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Response from Ivan Sygoda:
I was struck by Jonathan Secor telling me how dangerous the neighborhood used to be-- the McDonalds and how you had to think about bullet-proof windows for your car. Which is the greater danger: the violent past and the vestiges of it that may still exist, or aspects of the Brave New World future being constructed even as we watch? This spot in New York bears witness more than almost any other to how infrastructure changes things. Do those fascinating bridge structures pass over Harlem or serve it? Is there a way in few words to help people think about these things?

Response from Nora Thompson:
This performance was like A Body in Places has become imbued with other people. Eiko's costume combined solo and duet, with Sam's jacket. The curation felt like Eiko's, a combination between the way she often exists alone with a space, and the way she often interacts with Don. The place, especially since Don's videos explaining the past and current trauma of the site, was one we were being asked to pay attention to. The place was especially present with the two.

It was as if Eiko had started A Body in Places solo, begun to show the inherent interconnectedness of places and the constant human danger that's around us, and then was joined by a close friend (maybe someone like a son). They each did the solo for a little, both realized where they were, realized the history of the place and how it connected to so many other sites of oppression, dangerous experimentation, and hurt. Then they saw each other more fully - Eiko yelled RUN RUN RUN. It was as if the emergency of the place she was in were now sudden. Now that both Eiko and Don were in it, the danger felt more imminent. Eiko's yells felt protective, alarming. When they came back together, through crawling, through showing a video of themselves days earlier, I recognized the cyclical-ness of the emergency. This has happened before and it will happen again. This isn't over.