Movement artist Eiko Otake and painter Beverly McIver will collaborate for a performance and conversation on Sept. 1 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art ahead of Eiko’s performance at ASU Gammage on Sept. 10.
The intimate, site-specific “Eyes Closed/Eyes Open: A Performance by Eiko Otake” also features dancer Ishmael Houston-Jones alongside McIver and Eiko, who goes by her first name professionally, a press release explained. It will be presented twice on Sept. 1, at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., within the SMoCA exhibition “Beverly McIver: Full Circle.”
The three performers will move through the galleries and engage with the artwork, which includes more than 50 paintings from throughout McIver’s career, according to the release. Audience members will watch the performance while standing in the galleries.
“’Eyes Closed/Eyes Open’ will be a unique, immersive experience for our audience that will lend new perspectives to the works in ‘Full Circle’ and channel the poignant nature of Beverly’s work,” Julie Ganas, curator of engagement and digital initiatives at SMoCA, stated in the release.
Eiko first became acquainted with McIver in 2018. A short time later, McIver traveled to Japan to meet Eiko’s mother, but her mother passed away just before McIver’s arrival, the release detailed. McIver remained in Japan, thoughtfully documenting the cultural rituals surrounding death.
The resulting works, which helped Eiko reflect on her mother’s death, are included in McIver’s SMoCA exhibition. Inspired by those paintings, McIver and Eiko have since created performances together, including one in 2019 at Duke University, where McIver is the Ebenshade professor of the practice in studio arts.
“Beverly’s paintings are powerfully beautiful, dark and full of intensity — everything I wish for as an artist,” Eiko stated in the release. “The world is dark, but to gaze it as such is beautiful and deeply inspiring. I am excited to be able to exist and perform among her paintings.”
Following the performances, McIver and Eiko will engage in a conversation about their collaboration at 8 p.m., Sept. 1, in Stage 2 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which is located next to SMoCA.
The discussion, which will also be livestreamed on SMoCA’s YouTube channel, will be moderated by Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, vice president for cultural affairs at Arizona State University and executive director of ASU Gammage.
Eiko has brought various creative projects and performances to Tempe and ASU Gammage over the past 25 years. The latest performance in her series “The Duet Project,” on Sept. 10, will feature collaborations with three other artists from varying backgrounds and mediums: a dancer, a painter and even a poet.
“The Duet Project” changes fluidly as Eiko creates elaborative performance pieces in collaboration with different people, constructing an entirely unique audience experience with each performance. The duets contain tones and themes dealing with the human experience while also embracing the connections between different cultures, races, generations, etc, the release stated.
“We have seen Eiko’s work evolve over the years, and she always delivers fresh ideas to the stage, consistently bringing masterfully imaginative work,” Michael Reed, ASU Gammage senior director of programs and organization initiatives, stated in the release. “As part of ASU Gammage’s mission of ‘Connecting Communities,’ it’s important to provide a space for artists to be able to bring art, learning and culture to our theater in order to foster a community that is connected through similar experiences and an appreciation for the arts.”
Tickets to the performances of “Eyes Closed/Eyes Open” at SMoCA are $30. Tickets for the artist talk are pay-what-you-wish. For more information, visit SMoCA.org/events.
According to the release, the presentation of “Eyes Closed/Eyes Open: A Performance by Eiko Otake” was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This performance is in conjunction with “Beverly McIver: Full Circle,” an exhibition is organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and guest-curated by Kim Boganey, director of Scottsdale Public Art. Additional exhibition support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.