KOKO’s Love: A Soap Opera Tale of One Family: Video Stills

Artist Statement

My latest work activates soap opera tropes to challenge the myth of the “model minority” to reveal the complexities that lie underneath the guise of superficial “perfection” of being both Asian-American and a woman. I have created my version of an East-Asian/Asian-American hybrid soap in KOKO’s Love: Episode 1, about a Japanese-American family, whose patriarch is a liquor store owner in South Central Los Angeles that annoyingly insists on the importance of having a male inherit the family business and not a female, his only child, a daughter named Yuki. Every KOKO’s Love video installation has and will have different manifestations dependent on the associated videos and the space.

My work creates an uneasy environment that embodies my love-hate relationship with consumerism and pop culture and how they simultaneously perpetuate both ecstasy and extreme anxiety in quotidian life. In my videos, I am an undercover agent trying to expose the absurdities of a manipulative social structure while at the same time humorously struggling and reveling in it as a participant. My work thrives on the presence of individuals and their interaction with the environment to investigate the loneliness of electronically constructed, digitally mediated relationships perpetuated by pop culture.

My process includes performance. I often create characters that function as avatars that act out responses to contemporary society, addressing the social, cultural, and personal. I induce intimate situations between my created personalities and the audience by staging my videos within installations that are pushed to exaggerated and imaginative levels. My videos and installations infiltrate the psychological and physical space of the viewer, giving form to a sort of vulnerability—a nervous laughter.

People often ask, “Why are you so happy all of the time?” and my response is, “It’s better than crying.” Ultimately, in my work I would like to continue the exploration of humor as a complicated intersection where hope, happiness, anxiety, and darkness reside much like our society, a tension-filled existence of both criticality and complacency.

Yoshie Sakai is a multidisciplinary artist (video, sculpture, installation, and performance) based in Los Angeles. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2014 and is the recipient of the 2012 California Community Foundation for Visual Artists Emerging Artist Fellowship. Her work has been shown throughout the United States in film festivals and art exhibitions from Los Angeles to Miami, as well as internationally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Victoria, BC, Canada. She received her BFA from California State University Long Beach and her MFA from Claremont Graduate University.