Koko’s Love: the Technicolor Unfairy Tale Ball

Yoshie Sakai

SEPTEMBER 6–OCTOBER 28

opening reception: SEPTEMBER 6, 6–9PM

KOKO’s Love, an original East Asian/Asian American hybrid soap opera series written, produced, directed, and performed by Yoshie Sakai, is “ready for its close-up” at The Technicolor Unfairy Tale Ball at Verge Center for the Arts for an immersive video installation in a high school themed dance fashion. KOKO’s Love explores the ongoing saga of one Japanese American family with their overbearing patriarch, Hiroshi, a liquor store owner in South Los Angeles, and his annoying insistence on having a male heir.

The series re-imagines the melodramatic tropes of TV dramas to challenge the myth of the “model minority” and reveal the guise of superficial “perfection” of being both Asian American and a woman. Loosely autobiographical, Sakai felt it was important to write, produce, direct, and act out all the characters of this dark dramedy. Her characters function as avatars that act out responses to contemporary society, negotiating issues of cultural identity and familial and personal relationships and gender roles.

Sakai induces intimate situations between created personalities and the audience by staging videos within installations that are pushed to exaggerated and imaginative levels. Her videos and installations infiltrate the psychological and physical space of the viewer, giving form to a sort of vulnerability – a nervous laughter. For this exhibition, Verge Center for the Arts will become a stage for the everyday doubts, anxieties, hopes, and daydreams that come from living while challenging the notion of fictitious and non-fictitious storytelling.

KOKO’s Love originated from the artist’s interest in the quotidian, and since moving back home with her mother, she has been immersed in how her 84-year-old, first-generation Japanese mother entertains herself – by watching hours of East Asian soap operas daily as it’s what “she lives for.” The melodramatic and highly addictive narrative genre of the soap opera fascinates Sakai, not only for its outrageous characters and scenarios, but also for how it touches upon the most fundamental emotions and at times spews familiar life lessons and moral clichés that are highly accessible.

This project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.