Eiko and Koma transport into another world

Eiko & Koma, Studies for Naked, 2010

Eiko & Koma, Studies for Naked, 2010

I have never seen or experienced anything quite like Eiko and Koma's Naked exhibit, now taking place at the Walker. It is something that goes beyond "art" or "performance" or any other word in my vocabulary, and what it is like to enter into the world that they have created. The closest I can come to describing it is like entering into a dream world, but one so intense and self-consciously alive that it feels as though you must be awake. 


The room where Eiko and Koma lie naked on a bed of feathers, leaves, and earth is hidden from view by canvas backdrops with burn holes, sand, and black feathers stuck to it. One must go through this curtain into a heated room where you see the two bodies. As I entered, I almost gasped at how gorgeous the image was. I had seen the pictures beforehand, but nothing could prepare me for how exquisite the two artists look -- their white skin contrasting with the materials that engulf them, the small smudges of dirt on their bodies.  

I walked into the room and sat down on a pillow on one of the benches and watched Eiko and Koma move almost imperceptibly. The lights were filtered through plant material and changed ever so slightly as well. It was as if I was in some sort of forest on another planet, and the two bodies I saw before me were not human but some sort of creature, kind of like plants, or sponges, or amoebas, or some other strange living thing.  

I became acutely aware of their life. The two creatures were perhaps more alive than people. They swelled with breath, with energy that seemed to be somehow spiritual or otherworldly. Watching them was mesmerizing, but I cannot even describe what I was doing while watching. It was as if I had become a part of this strange ecosystem too, as did the other people who sat on the benches with me. It's as if we began watching, but were then drawn into the world so that we became more alive as well, transported into this alternate reality.  

At one point, Eiko lifted her head, seemingly reaching toward Koma. Her body trembled, her hair covered in grass, only to fall back, slowly, into the earth. She repeated this several times. Koma, meanwhile, raised his hip excruciatingly slow into the air and ever so subtly touched the grass with his fingers.  

The longer you stay watching the exhibit, the more deeply you experience it. One must settle into in the experience, letting the mind let go of any extraneous thoughts lingering from the day. It's really a kind of a meditation exercise. You have to settle in, breathe, and be.  

Eiko and Koma's Naked runs through November 30 in Gallery 2 at The Walker Art Center.