The Work of Bruce & Norman Yonemoto

Anthology Film Archives
32 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
March 17 through March 24, 2022

Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is pleased to partner with Anthology Film Archives to host artist Bruce Yonemoto for a retrospective of the video work he and his brother Norman Yonemoto have created, both together and separately, since the mid-1970s. Working largely collaboratively until Norman’s death in 2014, the Yonemotos hold a unique place in the history of avant-garde cinema and video art. Their work can be viewed through many different prisms: proudly Queer and committed to conveying the perspective and history of Asian-American (specifically, Japanese-American) culture, their films, videos, and installations also reflect a distinctively West Coast mentality, steeped in the radiance (and the shadows) of Hollywood’s glamorous myths, illusions, and ideologies.

Raised in Santa Clara, California, in the immediate postwar years, with their mother’s experience in the Japanese-American concentration camps informing their upbringing, the brothers both embraced careers in visual culture early on: Norman attended film school at UCLA and the American Film Institute, while Bruce studied art at UC Berkeley, the Sokei Bijitsu Gakkō in Tokyo, and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. Despite these initially separate paths – and after Norman cut his filmmaking teeth making both agit-prop shorts and the adult film Brothers – they almost immediately embarked on a collaborative career, beginning with the X-rated feature Garage Sale (1976). Soon after, they began a trilogy of video works known as the “Soap Opera Series” – a title that reflected their ongoing preoccupation with the conventions of television soap opera in particular and the codes and forms of mass media in general.

The Yonemotos’ extraordinary video works of the 1980s and 90s are irreverent, ironic, gleefully stylized, and yet closely attuned to the ways in which the grammar and iconography of television and industrial cinema shape modern life. Collaborating with a gloriously eclectic array of artists and performers including Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler, Spalding Gray, Jeffrey Vallance, Patricia Arquette, Ron Vawter, Mary Woronov, and Michael Smith, their body of work represents a fascinating nexus of figures, themes, and ideas.

Following Norman’s death in 2014, Bruce continued making single-channel video pieces, in addition to his photographs, installations, and sculptural works. This comprehensive retrospective will encompass almost all of the Yonemotos’ collaborative works, as well as Norman’s Second Campaign and Brothers, and a selection of the solo works Bruce has created since the turn of the millennium.

Bruce Yonemoto will appear in person for the majority of the screenings, with other special guests to be announced.

For a full list of showtimes, please see the Anthology Film Archives website.