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‘Koko’s Neighborhood,’ New Video Exhibit by Yoshie Sakai, to Open at CSUDH

CARSON — “Koko’s Neighborhood,” an exhibition that runs Jan. 30 to March 23 at CSU Dominguez Hills’ (CSUDH) University Art Gallery, features new work by contemporary Los Angeles artist Yoshie Sakai.

The exhibition is Sakai’s fourth installment of her ongoing video project “Koko’s Love,” which explores the everyday anxieties, fears, and joys of living, all depicted using the over-the-top tropes of the soap opera.

In the exhibition, Sakai introduces new characters to her video project. This new installment is called “Koko’s House,” a fully scripted reality show created in the vein of the current Netflix Japanese reality show “Terrace House.” For example, Koko’s house features three CSUDH students who become part of Sakai’s dysfunctional Japanese American soap opera family, the Sakimotos. The new characters further challenge the myth of the “model minority” and the underlying patriarchy in a family.

“I first interviewed each [student]to get a sense of their familiarity with various characters of my soap opera ‘Koko’s Love.’ Some wanted to be students who were helping to find a missing daughter, another wanted to be the mean girl’s best friend, while others became participants in the house,” explained Sakai, noting that the students served as consultants as well as actors. “I took their input and wrote a script to include them in this reality show, ‘Koko’s House.’”

This installment enables Sakai to expand her project from just the Sakimoto family to a new world and slightly larger “neighborhood” of characters to go beyond the usual insular family household in the regular show to include more perspectives and viewpoints from a diverse and fresh audience.

“Koko’s Neighborhood” is the culmination of Sakai’s 2018 Praxis Residency at CSUDH throughout which she collaborated with students Israel Perez, Santos Nuñez, Christina Laybon, Richelle Caampued, Vanessa Renovales, Sierra Robles, Joe Smith, Jacqueline Mendoza, Andreinna Giron, Danielle Harris, and Brianna Correa to create new characters that the students embody.

Praxis, the university’s extracurricular, crossdisciplinary art engagement program, brings artists, designers, students, and community members together to explore the history, social conditions, neighborhoods, and storylines of South Los Angeles.

“Koko’s Neighborhood” is made possible by generous funding from the Pasadena Art Alliance.

The University Art Gallery is located in LaCorte Hall, A-107. The exhibit is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by appointment. The student preview reception will take place Saturday, Jan. 26, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. A public reception will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Admission is free. The university is located at 1000 E. Victoria St. in Carson. For a campus map, go to For more information, contact the University Art Gallery at (310) 243-3334 or

About the Artist

Yoshie Sakai is a multidisciplinary artist who works in the mediums of video, sculpture,

installation, and performance. Previously based in Los Angeles, she now resides in her hometown of Gardena. 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. It is “what she lives for.”

Sakai attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2014 and is a recipient of the California Community Foundation for Visual Artists Fellowship, a 2018 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant and a 2018 inaugural bar-fund Artist Grant. 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 Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Victoria, Canada.

She received her BFA from CSU Long Beach and her MFA from Claremont Graduate University.

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