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The Duet Project at the Cathedral | Eiko + Koma
The Duet Project at the Cathedral
Photo by William Johnston

The Duet Project at the Cathedral

In November of 2018 Artist in Residence Eiko Otake returned to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to work on her new project, The Duet Project: Distance Is Malleable. Eiko and her collaborators created and rehearsed the work in the Nave of the Cathedral and in other chambers where visitors happened upon them, observed, and engaged in conversation with the artists.

On November 20th at 7pm they held the the first early-stage public presentation of the Duet Project.

The artists involved in the project have diverse backgrounds and practices. Filmmaker Alexis Moh and poet Mark McCloughan are both longtime collaborators of Eiko’s. For this occasion Alexis created a video/talk presentation illustrating her passion and frustration on the dire state of our environment. Eiko joined Alexis's "rant,"  making it a charged talking duet. Mark ran throughout the nave of the Cathedral and feverishly wrote out his poems as part of his duet with Eiko.

Pianist Margaret Leng Tan, who worked with Eiko & Koma in their 2007 Mourning, performed two pieces by Henry Cowell for her duet with Eiko. The event also included projections of Eiko created with another young collaborator, rap artist and painter DonChristian Jones, who performed alongside them and displayed a painting he had created of her. Eiko also presented duets with the dead: she showed a video of her past performance with poet C.D. Wright, who died in 2016, and she showed a video of her interactions with paintings by her deceased grandfather, noted Japanese painter Chikuha Otake, whom she has never met.

In this first showing of the larger project, collaborating artists shared with the audience members their exploration of difference, collision, and communication across disciplinary and generational boundaries.

Please read Nora Thompson's response to the event.

The larger project will premiere at the 2019 American Dance Festival and will continue to develop through touring to several cities. Eiko, in dialogue with the presenters, will design each leg of the tour as a unique program that will include a collaboration with artists specific to the community she is visiting. The range of collaborations will be visible online and through media installations.