Yoshie Sakai to Present ‘KOKO’s Love’ at Groundspace Project

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Yoshie Sakai plays multiple characters in “KOKO’s Love.”

“KOKO’s Love” has landed with an exciting cast of characters for the Los Angeles premiere of its long-awaited Episode 2, about the ongoing saga of one Japanese American family with their overbearing patriarch, Hiroshi, a liquor store owner in South Central Los Angeles, and his annoying insistence on having a male heir.

Opening reception will be held Saturday, Jan. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Groundspace Project, 1427 E. Fourth St. #4 in Downtown Los Angeles, just east of the Fourth Street Bridge. An artist’s talk and closing reception will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 4 to 6 p.m.

The loosely autobiographical “KOKO’s Love” is an original East Asian/Asian American hybrid soap opera series that 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.

Sakai felt it was important to write, produce, direct, and act out all nine characters from the first episode and 11 from the second episode of this dark dramedy. It has various manifestations as a video installation and changes form dependent on the related videos and the space.

For this exhibit, Groundspace Project will be transformed into a psychological playhouse for the everyday doubts, anxieties, hopes, and daydreams that come from living while challenging the notion of fictitious and non-fictitious storytelling.

The “KOKO’s Love” series originated from the artist’s interest in the quotidian, and since moving back home with her mother, she has been immersed in how her 82-year-old, first-generation Japanese mother entertains herself, which is by watching hours of East Asian soap operas daily because it is “what she lives for.” The melodramatic and highly addictive narrative genre of the soap opera fascinates her, 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.

Sakai is a multidisciplinary artist (video, sculpture, and installation) living and working in Gardena. She sees herself as an undercover cultural agent exposing the absurdities of a manipulative social structure while at the same time humorously struggling and reveling in it as a participant.

She attended the 2014 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and received the 2012 California Community Foundation for Visual Artists Emerging Artist Fellowship. Her work has been shown throughout the U.S. in film festivals and art exhibitions from Los Angeles to Miami, as well as internationally in Cambodia, Canada, and Japan. This summer she was at the ACRE Residency Program in Steuben, Wis. and had her first solo show at Antenna in New Orleans.

Sakai is very excited to have her first Los Angeles solo exhibition at Groundspace Project. She received her BFA from CSU Long Beach and her MFA from Claremont Graduate University.

Groundspace Project is an artist-run alternative space. Exhibition hours are Friday and Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m. For more information, call (310) 614-3351 or visit https://groundspaceproject.com/. The artist’s website is at www.yoshiesakai.com.

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