The Duet-Project:Distance is Malleable (work in Progress) (2017-)

Since 2017, Eiko has explored various ways to maximize her encounters with collaborating artists of varied backgrounds and practices. This has manifested in The Duet Project.

The creative process with each collaborator will be partly visible to the public, and interdisciplinary collaborations will result in videos, installations, performances, and other material that will contextualize each encounter. Not every participating artist will be performing a duet in classical sense, tour with Eiko, or be seen live by audiences.

Difference is an engine of inquiry. Each collaboration will develop in unexpected yet specific ways and will inform the direction, content, and shape of each public presentation. Eiko intends to investigate the following questions: How can two artists collide and return changed but whole? How can two individuals encounter and converse over their differences with or without words? How can we express both explicitly and implicitly what each of us really cares about?

In-progress showings and conversations have occurred during Eiko’s creative residencies at Wesleyan University in CT; the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on Captiva Island, FL (November 2017); Cassilhaus in North Carolina (July 2018); The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC (Nov 2018); Temple University(March 2019) and/or in presenters’ own communities.

The end result will be a durational, mutable, interdisciplinary program of duets designed for non-theatrical spaces, scheduled to premiere at the 2019 American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. Eiko will also work closely with presenters and curators to seek advice about performance sites and potential encounters specific to their communities.

Collaborating artists might be poets, musicians, or visual artists. Participants will be of different colors, ages, cultures, languages, professional and artistic fields, ways of life, and training. The list of possible participating artists includes David Brick (choreographer); DonChristian Jones (musician, visual artist); Ishmael Houston-Jones (choreographer, performer, curator, arts activist);  William Johnston (photographer, historian); John Killacky (video artist, art administrator, and Democratic candidate for Vermont House); Liz Lerman (Choreographer,writer, and speaker); Mark McCloughan (dramaturg, poet, performer); Beverly McIver (painter); Alexis Moh (filmmaker); Margaret Leng Tan (pianist); Sarah Skaggs, Merián Soto and Chitra Vairavan (dancer/choreographers).

When two living artists work together it is a celebration of living (and a preparation of dying), foreseeing the time when one of the two inevitably dies and becomes a memory of the other. Eiko will also work with artists who have passed away: poet CD Wright (1949-2016); Japanese writer Kyoko Hayashi (1930-2017), whose work Eiko translated; painter Chikuha Otake (1878-1936), her grandfather; and Sam Miller (1952-2018), poet, curator, and producer. Creating a duet with the deceased means absorbing their work and learning their thoughts in imagined conversations guided by memories and artifacts. How do we live and communicate with the dead? The question is pertinent because most of the art works we study or experience were created generations ago. It is also urgent for Eiko that she continue to converse with those who inspired and helped her plan this project.

With David Brick
With Ishmael Houston-Jones
With DonChristian Jones
With John Killacky
With Margaret Leng Tan
With Beverly McIver
With Mark McCoughan
With Alexis Moh
With Chikuha Otake
With Ralph Samuelson
With Merian Soto
With Chitra Vairavan
With C.D.Wright
With William Johnston

Excerpts of various Duets

Eiko Otake Bio 2018