Kappa (1986, 26 min, color, sound) By Bruce and Norman Yonemoto in collaboration with Mike Kelley. Kappais a boldly provocative and original work. Deconstructing the myth of Oedipus within the framework of an ancient Japanese folk story, the Yonemotos craft a highly charged discourse of loss and desire. Quoting from Bunuel, Freud, pop media and art, they place the symbology of Western psychosexual analytical theory into a cross-cultural context, juxtaposing the Oedipal and Kappa myths in a delirious collusion of form and content. The Kappa, a malevolent Japanese water imp, is played with eerie intensity by artist Mike Kelley; actress Mary Woronov plays Jocasta as a vamp from a Hollywood exploitation film. Steeped in perversions and violent longings, both the Kappa and Oedipus legends are presented in highly stylized, purposefully “degraded” forms, reflecting their media-exploitative cultural contexts. In this ironic yet oddly poignant essay of psychosexual compulsion and catharsis, the Yonemotos demonstrate that even in debased forms, cultural archetypes hold the power to move and manipulate.
Made in Hollywood
Bruce and Norman Yonemoto
1990, 56:12 min, color, sound
Steeped in irony, Made in Hollywood depicts the personal and cultural mediation of reality and fantasy, desire and identity, by the myths of television and cinema. Quoting from a catalogue of popular styles and sources, from TV commercials to The Wizard of Oz, the Yonemotos construct a parable of the Hollywood image-making industry from a pastiche of narrative cliches: A small-town ingenue goes West to find her dream and loses her innocence; the patriarch of a Hollywood studio nears death; a New York couple seeks screenwriting fame and fortune in the movies. With deadpan humor and hyperbolic visual stylization, the Yonemotos layer artifice upon artifice, constructing an image-world where reality and representation, truth and simulation, are meaningless distinctions.
Patricia Arquette as Tammy, Michael Lerner as Irving, Ron Vawter as Matt, Mary Woronov as Mary. Starring: Rachel Rosenthal, Greg Mehrten, Tim Miller, Raymond Cruz. With: Dona Hardy, Gordon Metcalf, Michael Smith, Perrey Reeves, David Schweizer, Alex Gerrard, Mike Kelley, Tiffany Gerrard, Dean Jones. Producer: Bruce Yonemoto. Director: Norman Yonemoto. Screenplay: Bruce and Norman Yonemoto. Editor: Norman Yonemoto. Musical Score: Carl Stone. Additional Music: Steve Stewart & Weba Garretson. Production Design: Patti Podesta, Gary Lloyd. Photography: Nikolai Ursin. Associate Producer: Carl Ludwig Rettinger. Executive Producer: Tadayuki Kariyama. Co-Producer: John Wentworth. Made possible by ZDF and the National Endowment for the Arts in association with the Film Arts Foundation. A KYO-DAI production.
2006 Papa (the original potato eaters) is a digital media installation by Bruce Yonemoto. Potatoes, indigenous to the farmlands of Andean Peru serve as the principal metaphor in this revisionist documentary. Papa replicates Vincent Van Gogh’s original painted composition, The Potato Eaters. (In Van Gogh's own words) The “uncivilized, unpeeled dusty faces” of the original Dutch peasants are portrayed by an indigenous Andean Quechua family who continue to this day “to earn their meals honestly.”
Japan in Paris in L.A.
Bruce and Norman Yonemoto
1996, 30 min, color, sound
Japan in Paris in L.A. centers on Saeki Yuzo, an early twentieth-century Japanese artist who makes a pilgrimage to Paris to seek his artistic fortunes, only to find that ethnic and cultural differences stand in his way. Around this narrative, the Yonemotos construct a multi-layered and self-reflexive work, in which strategies of disjunction and contradiction are central. Highly theatrical in its mise en scene, the piece nevertheless makes constant play with the mechanics and trappings of cinematic convention, and employs explicitly experimental strategies, such as a disembodied voice that intones script directions. Shot in both color and black and white film stocks, and intercutting archival footage of turn-of-the-century Paris, artistic locus of its time, with scenes set in mid-century Los Angeles, the twentieth century's Dream Factory, Japan in Paris in L.A. is a complex meditation on issues of Modernity, representation, ethnocentrism, and identity.