How do artists use their own bodies to articulate pressing issues of environmental injustice and collective vulnerability across places, timescales, and cultures?

Artists Eiko Otake (Japan/USA) and Sarah Cameron Sunde (USA) bridge site-responsive performance, film, photography, and installation to examine experiences of embodied vulnerability in the face of environmental crises, including nuclear disaster and sea-level rise. Throughout their globe-spanning and multi-year projects, each artist has challenged viewers to reconsider their preconceptions of time, understand the intricate interconnectedness of human bodies and natural landscapes, and witness the impacts of social and environmental injustices in varied places and communities. In this virtual conversation, they will reflect on their durational performance projects, including Eiko Otake’s A Body in Places and A Body in Fukushima and Sarah Cameron Sunde’s 36.5/A Durational Performance with the Sea. The artists discuss how they use their individual bodies to communicate global concerns, the impacts of industry-induced climate crises on the land and its inhabitants, and how they bridge visual and performing arts practices.

Access the event recording and artist bios here.

Lingering: reflections, questions, and scores for continued engagement

in collaboration with Ayaka Fujii

How do we inhabit time in crisis?

The Earth’s tidal bulge as breath, as breathing (an image from Sarah Cameron Sunde)

“I shouldn’t be here.” (Eiko, on her proximity to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant)

Where is your physical being prohibited? Where is your movement restricted? What kind of movement is possible, even in such a space?

Body as measuring stick
Body as conduit
Body as deep time
Body as cycle
Body as body of water
Body as a historied place
Body as thread
Body as microcosm
Body as archive

Close your eyes and “go” somewhere. Where are you now? Where do you spend the longest length of time? Where are your feet touching? How do you “tune in” to a place? What does it ask of you? How does it affect your breath? How does it nourish you? What is included in its “DNA”? How does it feel to linger in the immensity of a place and its history? What is the scale of your body in relation to this place? How does its memory hold you? How do you contribute to its memory? How does this place linger with you?

More Resources

Read Eiko & Sarah’s written responses to questions that we didn’t get to during the event: Duet #1 Audience Questions & Responses

Personal Manifesto of an Artist as a Cultural Activist — EIKO OTAKE

See how Eiko has taken her performances to sites around the world, connecting them with Fukushima through her body’s presence in each place: Solo Project — EIKO OTAKE

Gia Kourlas on Eiko’s Fukushima memorials at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC: Eiko: A Dancer’s Urgent Body in a Sacred Space (Published 2017)

Fukushima: Contaminated water lingering quandary decade after nuclear disaster

Preorder Eiko’s upcoming publication on her work in Fukushima (Published June 1, 2021)

Two Indigenous Poets on Sea Level Rise: Rise: From One Island To Another on Vimeo

Hear about Sarah’s ongoing work in Aotearoa 36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea

Signaling through the Waves: Essays on 36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea, by Sarah Cameron Sunde (Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities)

Book recommendations from Sarah:
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Timefulness by Marcia Bjornerud