The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) was pleased to present the first rendition of A Body in Places by Eiko, consisting of two related works. A Body in a Station was a series of four three-hour performances created and performed by Eiko in Philadelphia's Amtrak 30th Street Station. A Body in Fukushima was an exhibition of photographs by William Johnston showing Eiko in a radically different set of terminals: the abandoned rail stations in Fukushima, Japan.
A Body in Fukushima recounts a visit made by Eiko and Johnston, photographer and Wesleyan University Professor of Japanese history, to the irradiated communities that were evacuated after reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants in Japan suffered massive damage in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
The plants continue to emit radiation and the cleaning process is slow, leaving residents in temporary housing while entire towns are left desolate. Eiko and Johnston traveled through areas only recently opened to visitors, following the path of a discontinued train line. Many of the stations were partially or completely destroyed by radiation, the buildings crumbled and the tracks overgrown with weeds. By placing her body within the stations, Eiko sought to remember the people and day-to-day lives that passed through before the disaster.
Eiko performed A Body in a Station at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Amtrak station on four consecutive Fridays in October. This was the first time Eiko (of performance artist duo Eiko & Koma) performed alone. Eiko and her team - Johnston, videographer Ben Grinberg, dramaturge Mark McCloughan, and Harry Philbrick, the Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum at PAFA - examine how a performance affects and is affected by living everyday living. She has observed that, at the often-crowded 30th Street Station, most people are passing through time and space alone. Each body is in transit. In the construct of a performance where viewers walk by or gather around the performer, observers are themselves being observed, by each other and by the lone Eiko.
By presenting her performance and an exhibition of photographs simultaneously, Eiko sought to establish her own body as a link between vastly different stations. As such, her body became a conduit between Philadelphia and Fukushima as well as between the museum and the 30th Street station.
To view videos from Eiko's travels in Fukushima on the Eiko and Koma website, click HERE.
To view photographs of A Body in a Station, click HERE.