January 31, 2015

A Body in Fukushima

Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University
William D. Johnston and Eiko Otake, Eiko in Fukushima, 17 January 2014, Komagamine No. 146, 2014. Digital color print, 13.3 x 20 inches. Photo: William D. Johnston. © William D. Johnston and Eiko Otake, 2014.

A Body in Fukushima is a haunting series of color photographs and videos presented in a groundbreaking exhibition across all three of Wesleyan’s galleries: South Gallery of Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery; Davison Art Center; and the College of East Asian Studies Gallery at Mansfield Freeman Center.

In 2014, dancer-choreographer Eiko Otake and photographer-historian William Johnston followed abandoned train tracks through desolate stations into eerily vacant towns and fields in Fukushima, Japan. Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the explosions of the Daiichi nuclear plant there made the area uninhabitable. In vulnerable gestures and fierce dance, Ms. Otake embodies grief, anger and remorse. Mr. Johnston’s crystalline images capture her with the cries of the Fukushima landscapes. “By placing my body in these places,” she says, “I thought of the generations of people who used to live there. I danced so as not to forget.” A project of witness, remembrance and empathy, A Body in Fukushima grapples with the reality of human failure. As Mr. Johnston writes, “By witnessing events and places, we actually change them and ourselves in ways that may not always be apparent but are important.”

William Johnston is Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Wesleyan, and Eiko Otake is Visiting Artist in the Dance Department and the College of East Asian Studies. A Body in Fukushima was co-commissioned by Wesleyan University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; made possible in part by funds from the Japan Foundation, the Creative Campus Initiative of the Center for the Arts, and the Office of Academic Affairs, Wesleyan University.

A Body in Fukushima will be on display as follows. Admission to all three galleries is free. All three galleries are closed on Mondays.

South Gallery, Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery
283 Washington Terrace
Middletown, Connecticut
February 3–March 1, noon–5pm

Davison Art Center
301 High Street
Middletown, Connecticut
February 3–March 5, noon–4pm

College of East Asian Studies Gallery 
Mansfield Freeman Center
343 Washington Terrace
Middletown, Connecticut
February 3–March 6 and March 24–May 24, noon–4pm

An artist talk with Eiko Otake and William Johnston will be held on Thursday, February 5 from 5:30pm to 6pm in CFA Hall, located at 287 Washington Terrace on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown, followed from 6pm to 7pm by a walking tour of the three galleries, with an opening reception in each location. The snow date for the artist talk, gallery tours and opening receptions is Tuesday, February 10 from 5pm to 7pm. Admission to all events is free.


Related events

A Body in Places
Monday, February 23, 10pm
Olin Library Lobby, 252 Church Street

A Body in Places is dancer/choreographer Eiko Otake’s first solo project, which incorporates both performative and non-performative elements, and includes the photography exhibition A Body in Fukushima. Central to the project is a drive to explore non-traditional venues and to respond to the innate characteristics of each specific place. At the core of each variant is her alone exploring solitude, gaze, fragility, and intimacy. Performing as a soloist, she willfully partners with the particularities of places and viewers. The conversation that happens in the community becomes an integral part of the experience for audience and artist alike.


The Universal Flute: Old and New Music for the Shakuhachi
Wednesday, April 1, 8pm
Seminar Room, Mansfield Freeman Center, College of East Asian Studies

Asian Cutural Council Senior Advisor Ralph Samuelson (MA ’71) performs traditional music on shakuhachi (Japanese flute), followed by a performance with dancer/choreographer Eiko Otake.


Exhibition reboot and gallery talk with Eiko Otake and William Johnston
Thursday, April 2, noon
College of East Asian Studies Gallery at Mansfield Freeman Center
Free; a luncheon buffet will be served.



A Body in Fukushima at Wesleyan University

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