To Sojourn Inside Yoshie Sakai’s Surreal Soap Opera, Koko’s Love
Through February 11th
By Anna Garner
Yoshie Sakai’s first solo-exhibition in Los Angeles, Koko’s Love, at Groundspace Project, is an immersive (in the true sense of being so immersed you and your entire family/friends/entourage will never want to leave) production of her loosely autobiographical East Asian / Asian American hybrid soap opera series. The exhibition includes two soap opera episodes and five spin-off episodes, playing simultaneously within an installation of film sets, costumes, and other ephemera.
Koko’s Love is the story of the fictional, but not so fictional, Sakimoto family, Keiko, Hiroshi, and their seven-year old daughter Yuki. Conflict develops as Yuki struggles to deal with her father’s wish that she had been born a boy and would inherit the family liquor store, Koko’s Liquor, in South Central Los Angeles. The episodes use the monotone expressionless acting of dark humor, incongruent voice-overs, and an intentionally dissonant manipulation of scale. Visually the work is vibrant, anarchic, and absurd; green sequined alligators perform graceful flips and a talking tombstone acts as a pseudo-spiritual guide.
Sakai, who plays each character, takes on the drag of youth, male gesture, and the model Japanese American woman. The characters are archetypes played to the most extreme versions, disproving the archetype itself, and revealing typically overlooked intricacies of non-Anglo American identities. Koko’s Love constructs a thought-provoking visuality to the controverted place of the immigrant in the predominately whitewashed turf of the American landscape; it speaks to the complex heartfelt experiences of first and second-generation immigrants.
The offbeat humor and emotionally moving space of the installation guides the viewer into a state that sheds any presumption of themselves, the characters, or their everyday counterparts, rupturing the misconstrued normative of the body in performance.
Koko’s Love is a refreshing celebration of being human, questioning the interior and exterior definitions of that humanness. It asks weighted questions about the viewer’s positionality and identification and does so within a sensorial and comical composition where it is literally impossible to not feel satisfaction in the act of viewing and vicarious pride for the relevance of art making.
Koko’s Love runs January 21 – February 11 at Groundspace Project (1427 E. 4th Street, Unit 4, Los Angeles, CA 90033) Artist Talk/Closing Reception Februrary 11 4 – 6 pm