Eiko Otake: The Duet Project, Distance is Malleable

Attending, 2018

In collaboration with Iris McCloughan.

Banshee, 2022

Banshee is a duet between Margaret Leng Tan playing The Banshee (Henry Cowell) and Eiko's Night With Moths (camera by Rebekkah Palov) in a performance of The Duet Project: Distance Is Malleable at New York University's Skirball Center on April 16, 2022.

Camera by Alexis Moh .
Edited by Eiko Otake.

Bodies, 2019

In collaboration with DonChristian Jones.

The Duet Project: Distance is Malleable is a mutable and evolving series of experiments in collaboration. Negotiating differences of race, time, culture, ethnicity, religion and gender, the artists seek to maximize the potentials of their encounters.

Eiko's grandfather Chikuha Otake (1878–1936) was a praised figure in traditional Japanese painting. But his anti-mainstream sentiments were shunned by the field authorities. His reputation was severely damaged by his failed run for the House of Representatives. Filmed in 2018, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Suiboku Museum in Toyama, Japan, Eiko's edit combines videos of Chikuha's paintings and Eiko's performance with quotes from his essays and Eiko's musings.

Special thank you to David Brick, Ryohei Endo, Hiroyuku Horikawa, Feliece Fischer, and John Killacky.

Elegies, 2019

John Killacky is Eiko's long time friend. It was in July 2018 when both of them were attending the tree planting ceremony of their mutual friend Sam Miller at the Jacob's Pillow that Eiko invited John to join her Duet Project. John proposed to create a video work that they both speak to their dead mothers.

After exchanging their writings, the video was shot and edited by Brian Stevenson in the studios of Vermont PBS on November 22, 2019.
Special thanks to Larry Connolly.

In collaboration with Ishmael Houston-Jones.

On September 1, 2022, Eiko and Ishmael Houston-Jones performed in Beverly McIver's painting exhibition Full Circle, curated by Kim Boganey.

The whole event took place in connected galleries of her show, but this excerpt is when Ishmael and Eiko danced a duet in front of the paintings that were also a duet of a sort.

Camera by Julie Ganas.
Edited by Eiko Otake.

Developed in collaboration with and performed by DonChristian Jones.

The footage was filmed by Eiko during the Rauschenberg Foundation Residency in Captiva, FL in November 2017. Eiko edited the footage in Japan during her 2020 Virtual Creative Residency hosted by Wesleyan University. After editing, Eiko realized this is the first media work she created without her body.

Directed by Eiko Otake as a part of The Duet Project: Distance is Malleable.

In collaboration with Rebekkah Palov. 

This video was created during a residency at IEA (Institute for Electronic Arts) at Alfred University in June 2019. It was shown in a multi-channel video installation at IEA. This footage was edited for Eiko’s installation Mother at the Historic Chapel at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY in 2023. In Mother, Eiko talks and dance with her mother, who died in 2019. The film was played on loop, along with a visual installation, daily from 10AM–5PM.

Camera by Rebekkah Palov.

This is a story of friendship between two independent female artists and their body memories each willingly carry. In January 2020, New York based, interdisciplinary performing artist Eiko Otake arrived in Beijing to visit Wen Hui, a Chinese choreographer and filmmaker. Eight years apart, Eiko grew up in postwar Japan and Wen during the Cultural Revolution. They planned to visit each other for a month to converse and collaborate. The surge of COVID-19 abruptly cut off Eiko's visit and the pandemic has made Wen's visit to the USA impossible but the collaboration continued.

Run!, 2020

This video was originally created to be used as a projection in a performance of Bodies on March 29, 2019. DonChristian Jones and Eiko performed Bodies at the public plaza in front of Columbia University's Lenfest Center for the Arts on 125th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive. The footage was shot at the same location days prior to the performance. Eiko re-edited the piece in May 2020.

Camera and edit by Eiko Otake.
The footage of Eiko's performance was shot by Alexis Moh and Sumie Yonei.

Soak, 2017

The first video work created collaboratively with DonChristian Jones as a part of Eiko's The Duet Project: Distance is Malleable. The video was projected as part of The Value of Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls exhibition at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 2019.

Performed by Eiko Otake and DonChristian.
Camera by DonChristian Jones, Inci Eviner, Merián Soto.
Edited by Eiko Otake.
Created during the 2017 Rauschenberg Residency for The Duet Project.

Commissioned by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) for the occasion of Eiko receiving the Sam Miller Performing Arts Award. Premiered at LMCC’s A Toast to Downtown on December 9, 2020. Shot at LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island.

Performer Eiko Otake.
Director/Editor Liz Sargent.
DP Minos Papas.
Production by Cyprian Films, New York.

Two Women, 2015

Performance with with Tomoe Aihara.

In collaboration with Ben Greenwood.

On April 30, 2019, Eiko and Alexis Moh, one of Eiko's collaborators in The Duet Project, visited the Manzanar Historical Site. Manzanar was one of ten American internment camps where over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during the World War II. At the peak (in September 1942), 10,046 Japanese Americans were forced to live in Manzanar.

This video was shot two days after Manzanar Pilgrimage commemorated its 50th anniversary on site.

This is an edited excerpt of Eiko and Iris McCloughan's experiment working over Zoom on May 5, 2020 as a part of Eiko's Virtual Creative Residency hosted by Wesleyan University. 

Iris is both a dramaturg and a collaborator in Eiko's The Duet Project: Distance is Malleable. Iris is in their studio in Brooklyn, New York and Eiko is in a suburb of Tokyo, Japan, 6761 miles away. Both are restricted under the emergency order due to the coronavirus pandemic.