Directed, Performed, Edited by Kyoko Takenaka
Music by Kyoko Takenaka & Bay Blue (Matt Chang)
Producer: Cat Rinu
Hair & Make up: 加藤リーヌ
Los Angeles: Karen Masumoto
Curator Leeav Sofer paired artists Kyoko Takenaka and Samaneh Salehi together and asked them to have a conversation about the works they each created for For The Love Of L.A. These two artists have never met each other before, and the discussion recorded is their first meeting and the first time they are viewing each others' art pieces. Watch their conversation below.
As a ﬁrst generation Japanese-American artist living in Tongva Land, I have found myself yearning to explore just what it means to “go back to your country” during the time of COVID-19—when Anti-Asian hate crimes continue to rise in America. I have never lived in Japan and grew up in the states all of my life. But this land, Tongva land, was never ours to claim and it feels Asian- Americans are constantly and starkly reminded that no matter our journey, no matter how many decades or generations of pursuing the American dream, we can always be longing, but rarely feel a complete belonging.
I compare my yearning to my parents:
what myths do we each hold about the promise of faraway places?
In a unique time when Japan has physically closed its borders to the West, perhaps - the ﬁrst time since 鎖国 (sakoku), and the culturally deﬁning tokugawa period of 214 years of isolation -
without the energy or focus on tourism and the west -
how is the culture shifting?
how is it shifting its gaze inward -
and can I shift my gaze inward also?
what does it look like now when we can try to rehabilitate ourselves— without being watched (through tourism, anthropology, nihilism)?
and can I rehabilitate, my “grand country” (as Asian-American poet, Jenevieve Ting, has stated) - my being, my home?
what instinctual ways of reacting,
what ancient knowings do I return to and resonate with—
and where do I recognize that dissonance
And still long for my sense of home?
I want to be-longing.
So I have dreamt and journeyed to ﬁnd out.
This multi-media piece is a reﬂection of my journey and those of my ancestors.
Dedicated to Vicha Ratanapakdee and all of our Asian-American elders who moved to America, with this promise and hope of faraway places.
“I feel like I’m exploring three sides of me here in Japan -
one that feels distinctly American, that feels like a lucky giddy visitor taking it all in for the first time; one that deeply and ancestrally remembers the familiarity of this land and can finally breathe easier and tread lightly;
and the curious non-binary Asian-American artist that holds both dualities, and explores a new creative space where their art is no longer driven entirely by diasporic anger.
But it’s that same curiosity that is often met with this deep isolation and knowing—that no matter where I physically go, I will never be separated from this rooted anger and grief, or be able to escape the never ending longing for home.”
Kyoko Takenaka (they/them) is a multi-disciplinary performance artist, actor, musician, ﬁlmmaker and movement facilitator based between Tongva land (L.A.), Tokyo and London. Their name Kyoko means “vibrations of sound child” in Japanese. Kyoko believes in artistic expression as a conduit for personal and collective liberation and is constantly exploring unbinary ways of thinking, moving and creating.
Takenaka’s multimedia piece Home has been recognized by the Japan Film Festival, L.A. Shorts International Film Festival, the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival and performed at the Japanese American National Museum and the Los Angeles Asian Paciﬁc Film Festival.
They are also the guitarist/singer-songwriter of the queer multi- continental band, ‘Wastewomxn’, channeling diasporic experience and Afro-Asian unity and liberation through their work.