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About Mina

Baltimore City - Station North A&E District

Mina Cheon (천민정 PhD, MFA) is a Korean-American new media artist, scholar, and educator who divides her time between Seoul, South Korea, Baltimore, and New York. Cheon has exhibited her political pop art known as “Polipop” internationally. Polipop draws inspiration from global media and popular culture and makes work that intersects politics and pop in subversive and provocative ways. In particular, the artwork focuses on geopolitical and contested spaces and political pop icons while responding to Asia... more

North Korean Dream Sequence Project 2, Dip and Drip International Klein Blue

Mina Cheon aka Kim Il Soon
North Korean Dream Sequence Project 2
Dip and Drip Painting Series in International Klein Blue 01-18, 2017
Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24 x 1 inches each

As one of the last remaining hermit kingdoms of communism, North Korea has relentlessly remained socialist amidst a global overturn towards late-capitalism, and stands out with its greatest cultural paradox of vulnerability and threat. Mina Cheon, who is a South Korean artist working with a North Korean art persona named “Kim Il Soon,” campaigns for global awareness, North Korean lives matter, with her political pop and protest art she calls “polipop,” short for political pop art. Her new North Korean Dream Sequence Project showcases the unimaginable possibilities intersecting art, society, and politics, by painting things only possible in dreams to achieve North Korean liberation, freedom, and Korean unification.

While Kim Il Soon’s past paintings were done in North Korean social realist style, the new paintings are brazen in hot pink and in this particular series, in Klein International Blue. With swath of abstract expressionism overlaying realism, only in her dreams can Kim Il Soon truly paint freely and in abstraction, since the dictatorship and communist North Korea mandates art to be restrictive and done in a singular propaganda style. The Yves Klein International Blue as the pinnacle color of modern art, finds a new stage in the dream works of this North Korean artist, making transnational connections for dialog, global peace, and unity, through truthful arts related to life.

As a symbolic activity of Korean unification, the Klein blue is splashed, dipped, dripped on top of colorfully painted images of “Happy Land” themed Styrofoam punch-out paper toys found in Choco·Pie boxes, which are smuggled into North Korea from the South. As an extended theme by the artist, this “Choco-Pie Propaganda” takes the South Korean manufactured Choco-Pie confectionary that is vastly loved in North Korea, for its communication and exchange possibilities, hoping to heal the rift between the countries. These 18 vibrant paintings to be seen on both the front and back sides of the canvas, deliberately intermix Western abstraction with social realism, pop art and politics. Happy Land therefore, signifies the complexities of North Korea and its global presentation, our cultural bias and capitalist notion of happiness found in consumerism culture, and the question of global welfare tied to Korean unification.

Dream Sequence and DPRK Polipop

The latest body of Mina Cheon aka Kim Il Soon paintings are her Dream Sequence painting series where she is painting hot pink drip, Western style abstract expressionist, paintings in her dreams. Due to the regimented military life under governmental control in North Korea, only in her dreams is this character Kim Il Soon allowed to paint this type of work and is unconsciously liberating herself artistically as well as from the regime.

Assuming different artistic pseudonyms and pen names during the past twenty years such as Minaliza1000 and M-1000 was nothing new, but Cheon’s latest artistic persona named Kim Il Soon, who is a North Korean social realist painter is an important political statement. Since Korea has been divided into North and South Korea since the Korean War, and as a relic of the Cold War, Cheon advocates that the practicing Korean artist should also be split and therefore, Cheon has been working simultaneously as both a “South Korean Mina Cheon” and “North Korean Kim Il Soon.” Her North Korean artwork is called DPRK Polipop, short for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Political Pop Art, or Kim Il Soon’s “Sweet Revolution.” The goal and political campaign of this branch of work is for the sake of global peace and Korean unification. Assuming different artistic personae in photography, new media, and performance such as works of Coco Fusco, Cindy Sherman, Yasumasa Morimura, and Nikki Lee, to name a few, contributed to the themes of postmodern identity. Cheon’s North Korean artistic persona Kim Il Soon is a deliberate political move, social activism and performance, and will be ongoing until Korean unification.

2015 includes the works of an art book cataloging the DPRK Polipop art series as well as finishing up three more social realist paintings and the new hot pink drip paintings.

The DPRK Polipop: Sweet Revolution art book was published in May 2015 through the Mina Cheon Studio and available at http://www.blurb.com/b/6219321-dprk-polipop

DPRK POLIPOP : SWEET REVOLUTION is an art book by political pop and new media artist MINA CHEON who has taken on the artistic persona of a North Korean social realist painter "Kim Il Soon" for the sake of promoting Korean unification and global peace. The book highlights the collection of Cheon’s artwork, which she calls “DPRK Polipop,” a new branch of her Polipop: Political Pop Art series. The book also showcases 2014 exhibitions at the Ethan Cohen New York gallery and Trunk Gallery Seoul, Korea, as well as including texts by Cheon, art critic Jonathan Goodman, curator Jin Kwon, and reporter Iris Jang of Voice of America. The book is published by Mina Cheon Studio at K-Town Studios in Baltimore, Maryland, 2015. Mina Cheon Studio is dedicated to scholarly work and art production of contemporary and global, new media political pop art projects.
DPRK POLIPOP : SWEET REVOLUTION BY MINA CHEON
ISBN: 9781320695909 PAGES: 66
© Copyright 2015 Mina Cheon, all rights reserved
Published by MINA CHEON STUDIO
MINA CHEON STUDIO @ K-TOWN STUDIOS
100 West 22nd Street, Baltimore MD 21218
Book design by Travis Levasseur and Leslie E. Chung of MINA CHEON STUDIO

  • Dream Sequence: Hot Pink Drip Painting 03

    Date Work Completed: 2015-6 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 48 x 1.5 inches Description: The latest body of Mina Cheon aka Kim Il Soon paintings are her Dream Sequence painting series where she is painting hot pink drip, Western style abstract expressionist paintings in her dreams. Due to the regimented military life under governmental control in North Korea, only in her dreams is this character Kim Il Soon allowed to paint this type of work and is unconsciously liberating herself artistically as well as from the regime.
  • Dream Sequence: Hot Pink Drip Painting 01

    Date Work Completed: 2015-6 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 48 x 36 x 1.5 inches Description: Here Kim Il Soon appears from a flog like cloudy mists, in a very dream like landscape and under the banner of North Korean flags.
  • Dream Sequence: Hot Pink Drip Painting 04

    Date Work Completed: 2015-6 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 48 x 1.5 inches Description: The latest body of Mina Cheon aka Kim Il Soon paintings are her Dream Sequence painting series, where she is painting hot pink drip Western style abstract expressionist paintings. Due to the regimented military life under the North Korean governmental control, social realist painter Kim Il Soon is artistically liberating herself as well as from the regime in her dreams.
  • Dream Sequence: Hot Pink Drip Painting 05

    Date Work Completed: 2015-6 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 24 x 1.5 inches Description: Here Kim Il Soon is dreaming of peaceful gathering of herself and her children as she is married to the state and the dear leader.
  • Dream Sequence: Hot Pink Drip Painting 02

    Date Work Completed: 2015-6 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 36 x 1.5 inches Description: In Kim Il Soon's dream, her daughter Kim Sia appears as the happiest North Korean girl, playing in the park with a balloon and singing songs of joy.
  • Happy North Korean Children I

    Date Work Completed: 2015 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 48 x 60 x 1.5 inches Description: The painting shows an abstract and imaginary field of happy North Korean children, posed by the artist’s own children Gerson and Sasha as “Kim Siun” and “Kim Sia,” characters who multiply, assuming the identities of many happy children similarly portrayed in North Korean propaganda imagery.
  • Happy North Korean Children II

    Date Work Completed: 2015 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 60 x 36 x 1.5 inches Description: North Korean Children are happy because the North Korean government presents their “Juche” ideology, blissfulness that comes from social collectiveness. As a part of her social activism, the artist created North Korean political pop art, promoting Korean unification and global peace.
  • Line up Kim Il Soon II

    Date Work Completed: 2015 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 60 x 1.5 inches Description: “Kim Il Soon” is the North Korean art persona created by the artist Cheon, and she is currently lined up and appears in multiple and throughout many of this North Korean painting series. The national identity and propaganda of North Korea is portrayed through the military unity.
  • Line up Kim Il Soon

    Date Work Completed: 2013-2014 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 60 x 1.5 inches Description: Kim Il Soon is lined up and appears in multiple. In North Korean military, all that matters is collectivity over individuality, unity over plurality. The piece is a series with Position I and Position II or it can be a single piece. The national identity of a North Korean is similar in this way in that there is no real individual identity rather collective, one is the same as all and all is the same as one, found in the “Juche” ideology.
  • Position I

    Date Work Completed: 2013-2014 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 24 x 1.5 inches Description: The piece is a series with Line Up and Position II but can also be considered a single piece or diptych with Position II. The national identity of a North Korean is similar to this in that there is no real individual identity rather collective, one is the same as all and all is the same as one, found in the “Juche” ideology.

DPRK POLIPOP

DPRK POLIPOP (Democratic People's Republic of Korea Political Pop Art)
by Mina Cheon

In 2012, new media artist Mina Cheon launched a new artistic persona and alter ego / avatar named Kim Il Soon, who is a North Korean social realist painter. This is a deliberate political move by the artist to bring awareness about North Korea. She will resume painting until Korean reunification. Her name Kim Il Soon was bequest to her by the supposed Dear Leader. She is a nationally recognized painter of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as a Lieutenant Colonel Navel Commander, scholar, devout citizen, hardworking farmer, a mother of two, and most importantly, a human being.

Kim Il Soon appeared publicly for the first time during the Pulse Art Fair in New York in 2013 and this painting “Sons of Joseon: Squirt Water Not Bullets” was exhibited alongside her performance, as she passed out political and peace buttons “Make Art Not Missiles.” The painting is one out of a larger series of work, which are elaborations of Kim Il Soon’s performance and political pop art campaign for global peace and Korean reunification. North Koreans call their nation “Joseon” but they do not directly relate themselves or acknowledge the history of Joseon Dynasty. The two boys in the painting is of her son Kim Si-un, the doubling of his appearance signifies the twin effect, a country split into two. “Sons of Joseon” was acquired by the Smith College Museum of Art, and housed in the contemporary art section.

SWEET REVOLUTION (Artist Statement)
Mina Cheon Dictation Kim Il Soon
January 17, 2014
On my mother’s birthday.

As a Korean, the idea of having two artistic identities, South Korean Mina Cheon and North Korean Kim Il Soon, is an obvious reflection on the country’s state of being divided. It makes all the sense in the world that if a country is split so should the artist in practice. As a political pop artist, I’ve created artworks that responded to the global political climate, using pop imagery that circulates on the Internet, news, and entertainment as the source of my work. As a South Korean new media artist Mina Cheon, the political pop art (Polipop) includes the perspective of a South Korean-American who travels between the East and West, bringing out things that usually go unnoticed or said in media culture. As a North Korean social realist painter, Kim Il Soon lacks access to technology and adheres strictly to the propaganda painting style of North Korea.

While the Korean peninsula may be demarcated by a 38th Parallel, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the history and culture is nevertheless shared, the country is united by one country’s people and language. Moreover, Korea is ubiquitously tied by the never-ending heated debate on reunification and national identity, whether we are at war, armistice, trade, or peace. This is our business.

The world may find our country (countries) amusing, the radically divided, globally useful as separated communism and capitalism states, fanatically obsessing over sports or military or pop culture. Our history is made by other countries and cultures, the Western influence has been severe, whether through China, Japan or America, it makes sense that other worlds and countries deem to hold stake at what should remain – a country divided – and what shouldn’t happen – reunification. Who are those who dictate what should happen? Who are fit to lead the way towards unification, when cultural divides remain not only from South and North but also between East and West, and even between the left and right politics.

What does economy have to do with it? Probably everything. It benefits some for Korea to be separated; it benefits others for us to unite. Mostly, humanitarians would like to see Korean reunification for the purpose of global peace. We are those people, Kim Il Soon and Mina Cheon, and everyone else who support the cause of this political pop art campaign which include the slogans and ideas, “Eat Choco·Pie Together,” “Squirt Water Not Bullets,” and “Make Art Not Missiles.”

In 2004, I traveled to North Korea from South Korea, busing passed the DMZ with very large windows without curtains so that North Korean military soldiers can see us through the glass. The tour was to the glorious and mystical Mountain Kum Kang San, a place that is now forbidden ever since 2008, when a South Korean female tourist was shot twice by a North Korean officer for straying her path. With the same name as the number one Korean restaurant in New York City, the Kum Kang San Restaurant in K-town where you dine Korean BBQ over a massive faux mountain made out of Styrofoam and a mechanically pumped waterfall, the passing into North Korea was its own simulacra, a copy without an original since the sky seemed bluer, the mountains looking just like the images we are so familiar with through posters and calendars of hallmarking beauty of North Korea. Being at the actual site only reinforced the image of the place, it was all a reproductive moment. And the woman who got shot, could have been me, as I am told repeatedly.

While the tour was restrictive and highly programmed, my direct interactions with North Koreans were nothing like the axis of evil, uncle killing, actress raping, fan of Dennis Rodman, rogue enemy. Instead, they were warm. I felt akin, like being with my own family, they were like sisters, and like my mother, who after all was from the North and came down to the South at the brink of war.

Many of the North Korean female workers around the Kum Kang San’s Hyundai Resort, or even the security were friendly. They called me “unni” meaning older sister and even showed signs of affection by slightly holding my arm when speaking to me. I did not feel foreign in this country.

Soon after my trip, I started creating my first series of political pop art on North Korea with a series of 99 Miss Kim(s) doll installation of North Korean military femme bots that superseded American Barbie dolls in beauty and appearance, as well as an interactive media installation piece, Half Moon Eyes that archived all the videos from that trip, including footages that I had to retrieve back after confiscation. The term “half moon eyes” references the shape of North Korean female eyes that make them remarkably beautiful. The work I did then was dedicated to my mother whose maiden name is Kim, as well as all of the Kim names of North Korea. Miss Kim was also myself, as a Korean embodying North Korean history.

By 2012, it was no accident that meeting Ethan Cohen who also has a history with North Korea, encouraged me to elaborate further with Miss Kim, Ms. Kim Il Soon. Her name Kim Il Soon bequeath to her by the supposed Dear Leader, means “eternal purity” and sounds similar to Kim Il Sung, founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea whose name means “eternal sun.” Kim Il Soon is a nationally recognized painter, which means she has a bit more artistic freedom than some. She is also a two-starred Lieutenant Commander, scholar, devout citizen, hardworking farmer, a mother of two, and most importantly, a human being.

The artwork created in this persona is a deliberate political move, the art is activism that brings awareness about North Korea and it is Kim Il Soon’s intention to resume painting until Korean reunification. She is my artistic persona, alter ego, a new media avatar, and this is our performance. With the work ethics of a good North Korean, Kim Il Soon spends a hundred hours with each painting. Since she is recognized as a national painter, she has assistants, but nevertheless labors over the work.

Kim Il Soon appeared publicly in the United States for the first time during the Pulse Art Fair in New York 2013 with Ethan Cohen New York, and the painting Sons of Joseon: Squirt Water Not Bullets was exhibited alongside her performance, as she passed out political peace buttons. North Koreans call their nation “Joseon” but they do not directly relate themselves or acknowledge the history of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. The two boys in the painting is her son Kim Si-un, and the doubling of his appearance signifies the twin effect, a country split into two. This painting was soon thereafter acquired by the Smith College Museum of Art, and housed in the contemporary art section, a fitting place for housing their very first North Korean female artist’s work.

So, here we are. Kim Il Soon’s very first solo exhibition at Ethan Cohen New York gallery opens. In varying sizes, her paintings resemble North Korean propaganda posters. In Happy North Korean Girl, she proudly poses in front of the DPRK flag. She is happy because she can serve her nation with pride. In 2011, the North Korean Chosun Central Television announced the results of a new global happiness index reported by the national research team, and it states that North Korea is the second happiest nation aside big China which is supposedly the happiest due to the mere number of people; South Korea being in the 152nd place and “the American Empire” in place 203, which would not be a surprise if it was dead last place.

The paintings of Happy North Korean Little Boy and Happy North Korean Little Girl show Kim Il Soon’s children, Kim Si-un (son) and Kim Si-a (daughter) who sing their hearts out for their country on stage. While blessed with two children, Kim Il Soon is only married to the state, and by default married to the Dear Leader, in perpetuity.

Another painting In Honor of The Great Dear Leader Father includes Kim Il Soon raising the red flag under the blazing sun of Kim Il Sung, and other Dear Leaders appear in other paintings such as in Strength and Military, where Kim Il Soon holds a North Korean rifle while embracing a portrait of dictator Kim Jong-il in front of an industrial complex. In the painting Lil’ Kim, the February 2012 Times Magazine’s front cover of Kim Jong-un is framed while Kim Il Soon is taking notes and sketching in her little red book.

From other paintings such as the Three Graces that reference Western beauty amidst a North Korean flag to Kim Il Soon as a farmer in The Seven Years Plan, the doubling and tripling image of self signifies the multiplication process in reproductive culture, lacking individuality and promoting collectivity and succinctness in unity repeated in North Korean imagery. Whether lining up in painting Line Up or spiraling in 007, Kim Il Soon includes herself into North Korean military iconography that includes the “Juche” ideology that one is all and all is one.

And, whose Choco·Pie is it?

The installation of 10,000 Choco·Pie for the audience to eat was kindly donated by Orion Co. in support of the installation Eat Choco·Pie Together that promotes Korean reunification and global peace. Kim Il Soon unconsciously exposed to the outside world, had her Duchampian moment of making a good decision. Duchamp selects a toilet and she selects a relevant intercultural consumer object of our time, the Choco·Pie.

This South Korean moon pie-like confectionary has become an overnight sensation in North Korea as a smuggled favorite snack and is worth three bowls of rice, and favored especially by the elite class North Korean women. Comparable to the American Twinkie, Choco·Pie has been sought after in North Korea, ever since South Koreans gifted Choco·Pie to the North Korean laborers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex as a token of appreciation. Symbolically, the Choco·Pie has opened up North Korea and formed a loving exchange between the North and South, something that even the Korean governments have failed to do. Truly this is a postmodern co-national co-operation, one that is a viral and an addictive kind.

The Chinese character “Jung” on the packaging means love and friendship. Choco·Pie is ours to eat, for North and South Korea, and for America – Let’s Eat Choco·Pie Together – for “Han guk” means “one country,” not Republic of Korea, not Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This is a “Sweet Revolution.”

The exhibition “CHOCO·PIE PROPAGANDA: From North Korea with Love” by Mina Cheon aka Kim Il Soon was shown at Ethan Cohen New York (ECNY), January 28 - March 1, 2014. ECNY is located on 251 W. 19th St, between 7 and 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011. http://www.ecfa.com/

  • Sons of Joseon: Squirt Water Not Bullets

    Date Work Completed: 2013 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 48 x 60 x 1.5 inches Description: North Koreans call their nation “Joseon” but they do not directly relate themselves or acknowledge the history of Joseon Dynasty. The two boys in the painting is of Kim Il Soon’s character son Kim Siun, the doubling of his appearance signifies the twin effect, a country split into two.
  • Space Composite #3

    Ink on Layered Durlar on Paper Summer/Fall 2010
  • In Honor of The Great Dear Leader Father

    Date Work Completed: 2012 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 24 x 36 x 1.5 inches Description: This painting includes Kim Il Soon raising the red flag under the blazing sun of Kim Il Sung, the founder of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The name Kim Il Sung, means eternal sunshine, and Kim Il Soon, the name bequeathed by the Dear Leader means “eternal purity.” Other: This is one of the very first two Kim Il Soon paintings.
  • 007 Ms. Kim (Small)

    Date Work Completed: 2013 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 36 x 1.5 inches Description: Global pop culture and cinema is a huge hit in North Korean elite class. Kim Il Soon mimics the 007 style with North Korean military propaganda. Other: This painting was created for the promotional image of “Choco·Pie Propaganda” exhibition.
  • 007 Ms. Kim (Large)

    Date Work Completed: 2013 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 48 x 1.5 inches Description: Global pop culture and cinema is a huge hit in North Korean elite class. Kim Il Soon mimics the 007 style with North Korean military propaganda. Other: This painting is the larger of the two 007 paintings.
  • The Seven Years Plan

    Date Work Completed: 2013-2014 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 40 x 30 x 1.5 inches Description: Kim Il Soon is also a farmer. She is holding the national manual for the seven years plan of good agriculture and appears in double to amplify the power of the twin effect that reoccurs in Kim Il Soon’s paintings, and connotes the splitting of a nation as North and South Korea. Other: Large Korean text: “The Seven Years Plan”
  • Strength and Military

    Date Work Completed: 2013-2014 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 48 x 48 x 1.5 inches Description: Kim Il Soon holds a North Korean rifle while embracing a portrait of dictator Kim Jong-il (son of Kim Il Sung and father of Kim Jong-un) in front of an industrial complex. The painting is both futuristic and apocalyptic with the Korean saying of “Let’s Strengthen our Military and Armed Forces.” Other: Korean text: “Let’s Strength our Military and Armed Forces.”
  • Lil’ Kim

    Date Work Completed: 2013-2014 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 48 x 48 x 1.5 inches Description: In February 2012, the Times Magazine’s front cover was of Kim Jong-un with the title Lil’ Kim as he recently assumed power and position as the new dictator of North Korea. Here Kim Il Soon poses in front of his portrait to take notes and sketch in her little red book.
  • Three Graces

    Date Work Completed: 2013-2014 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 48 x 60 x 1.5 inches Description: The famous Western art history poses of the three graces that signify beauty has found its way in Kim Il Soon’s painting with a North Korean flag as the backdrop.
  • 11

HAPPY NORTH KOREAN CHILDREN

Happy North Korean Children
Solo Exhibition by Mina Cheon

June 26 – July 29, 2014
Reception Thursday, July 3, 6-8 PM

The Trunk Gallery proudly presents Mina Cheon’s Polipop (Political Pop Art) exhibition “Happy North Korean Children” from June 26 to July 29.

This exhibition shows an abstract and imaginary field of happy North Korean children, posed by Cheon’s own children Gerson and Sasha as “Kim Siun” and “Kim Sia,” characters who multiply in the digital world, assuming the identities of many happy North Korean children similarly portrayed in North Korean propaganda imagery. They are happy because of the ways in which the North Korean government presents their “Juche” ideology, blissfulness that comes from favoring social collectiveness over individuality.

In 2011, the North Korean Chosun Central Television announced the results of a new Global Happiness Index compiled by the national research team. In the report, North Korea is announced as the second happiest nation aside from big China which is supposedly the happiest due to the mere number of people; South Korea being in the 152nd place and “the American Empire” in place 203, which would not be a surprise if it was in dead last place. This world news funneled by Chinese press and media influenced the new body of work of happy North Korean children to be exhibited at the Trunk Gallery.
The theme of happy North Korean children is an extension of Cheon’s artistic persona, “Kim Il Soon,” who is a North Korean social realist painter, naval commander, farmer, scholar, and mother of two. While the Kim Il Soon character came to full life in a series of paintings in her solo exhibition “Choco·Pie Propaganda” at the Ethan Cohen New York gallery early this year, by highlighting just her children at the Trunk Gallery, Cheon animates these characters into real life, staging them in digital prints, which is the medium of our computer age. The exhibition is intended to bring awareness of the beautiful Korean children, may they be from the North or South. It is a celebration of the future of Korea and for the artist Cheon, a part of her social activism and political campaign, expressed in pop art and Polipop exhibition, promoting Korean unification and global peace.

Mina Cheon’s “Polipop: Political Pop Art” was first showcased at the Sungkok Art Museum in 2012 and looked at geopolitical issues between countries through pop art. The inspiration of the work was to bring out things often unsaid about people, lives, and places in global media culture, giving voice to those things often skewed by media such as the way North Koreans are portrayed as evil and backwards in the West. Cheon has focused on looking at the relationship between the East and West, Korea and America, Korea and Japan and China, and North and South Korea, and has done projects that deals with North Korea, Dokdo, Olympics in Asia, political and sports figures and heroes, and global pop icons.

Assuming different artistic personae in photography and new media is nothing new, there has been a plethora of artists such as American Cindy Sherman, Japanese Yasumasa Morimura, and Korean Nikki Lee to name a few who are known as appropriation artists and who have created alter egos and multiple characters to portray the diversity in postmodern identity. Cheon however, creates her North Korean artistic persona Kim Il Soon as a deliberate political move, social activism and performance.

CHOCO·PIE PROPAGANDA

CHOCO·PIE PROPAGANDA
MINA CHEON AKA KIM IL SOON
From North Korea with Love

January 23 - March 1, 2014
Ethan Cohen New York
251 W. 19th St.
New York, NY 10011

Ethan Cohen New York proudly announces the solo exhibition by artist Mina Cheon aka "KIM IL SOON" in her North Korean artistic persona. Her paintings showcasing polipop (political pop art) and her installation "EAT CHOCO·PIE TOGETHER" open Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6 pm at Ethan Cohen New York, 251 West 19th Street in New York City.

Kim Il Soon is a concept born of the necessity to promote global peace and Korean reunification. Her name purports to link her to the leadership of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. She claims to be a nationally recognized DPRK artist as well as a Lieutenant Commander, scholar, devout citizen, hardworking farmer, mother of two, and most importantly, a human being. She vows to continue her artistic propaganda campaign until Korean reunification, if not world peace.

The exhibition is comprised of Kim Il Soon’s North Korean social realist paintings and an installation that covers the entire lower level of the gallery with “Choco·Pie,” a South Korean moonpie-like confectionary manufactured by the company Orion. It has become an overnight sensation in North Korea as a smuggled snack. The Orion Corporation has sponsored this exhibition with 10,000 Choco·Pie in support of the idea that we must “Eat Choco·Pie Together” in order to take steps towards Korean reunification. Choco·Pie has become the most sought after consumer object in North Korea ever since South Koreans donated Choco·Pies to North Korean workers at the jointly managed Kaesong Industrial Complex. It has thus become a symbol of Korean cooperation.

The artist has selected Choco·Pie packaging which contains the traditional character “Jung”, a symbol of love and friendship. By eating Choco·Pie, the American audience can participate in building Korean friendship and awareness of North Korea.

The artist has produced a series of social realist paintings on canvas and watercolors on paper that promote the polipop campaign, which will be on view at the gallery. Additionally she has produced buttons with the slogans “Squirt Water, Not Bullets” and “Make Art, Not Missiles”.

Commentary on Artist Organized Art by Mina Cheon
Critical POLIPOP (Political Pop Art) of Our Mass Consumption Societies

IT IS A SWEET CHOCO·PIE REVOLUTION
Choco·Pie Propaganda: From North Korea with Love
At Ethan Cohen Fine Arts NYC

With the advent of recent UN documents exposures of North Korea’s human rights treatment, our attention to North Korea is more important now than ever. A controversial exhibition that has aroused a diverse range of patriotic sentiments from many Koreans & More, “Choco·Pie Propaganda: From North Korea with Love” is showing at Ethan Cohen Fine Arts, New York (251 W 19 St, NY 10011).

Come and participate in the North Korean political pop art campaign,“EAT CHOCO·PIE TOGETHER,” promoting Korean reunification and global peace.
Art in America: “If you liked Sots Art from Russia (with irony) and Political Pop from China, you’ll feel right at home with these paintings and watercolors, nearly all bright self-portrait parodies of the most propagandistic strain of Socialist Realism. The twist here is that Cheon, a Korean-American artist, has adopted the North Korean persona of Kim Il Soon-farmer, mother, scholar, soldier, artist and distant relative of the nation’s Beloved Leader. Downstairs is a spreading pile of Choco Pie treats, a highly prized form of contraband in the People’s Democratic Republic and a symbol, due to their South Korean origin, of potential reunification.” (Art in America, Lookout)

Post Minjoong Misool And Artist Mina Cheon
A new form of Post Minjoong feminist art has emerged by artist Mina Cheon, who’s practice, Polipop (political pop art) which is also art as activism, aligns with the strong lineage of Minjoong Misool, the politically charged art which emerged in the 1980's democratic movement of South Korea. Paying homage to famous South Korean Minjoong artists such as Lim Oksang and the plethora of primary feminist artists of this era, such as DjinSuk Kim, YunSuknam, Kim In Soon, and Park Youngsook, Mina Cheon (???) aka Kim Il Soon exposes her newest Polipop work, “Choco·Pie Propaganda” at Ethan Cohen New York (through February 28). Ms. Cheon’s Chelsea NYC gallery represents an international hot list of Asian contemporary political-pop artists. She is also exhibiting at South Korea’s Trunk Gallery in Seoul (June 26 – July 29), the leading photography and new media gallery directed by Park Youngsook.

In Cheon’s artist statement released on January 23rd, she writes, “As a Korean, the idea of having two artistic identities, South Korean Mina Cheon and North Korean Kim Il Soon, is an obvious reflection on the country’s state of being divided. It makes all the sense in the world that if a country is split so should be the artist in practice… …While the Korean peninsula may be demarcated by a 38th Parallel, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the history and culture is nevertheless shared, the country is united by one country’s people and language. Moreover, Korea is ubiquitously tied by the never-ending heated debate on reunification and national identity, whether we are at war, armistice, trade, or peace. This is our business.”

The exhibition “Choco·Pie Propaganda” is comprised of Kim Il Soon’s North Korean social realist paintings and an installation that covers the entire lower level gallery with “Choco·Pie,” a South Korean moonpie-like confectionary manufactured by the company Orion. Choco·Pie is an overnight sensation in North Korea. It is smuggled in as a favorite snack. The Orion Corp. has kindly donated 10,000 individually wrapped Choco·Pie cakes in support of Cheon’s Choco·Pie installation, “Eat Choco·Pie Together,” and her call for Korean reunification. The January 23rd opening at Ethan Cohen New York included the artist’s recital of 55 special ways of saying Dear Leader in North Korea. In only three days a Choco·Pie sensation has gone viral, as reported in the Choco·Pie coverage of CNN.

Mina Cheon Studio would like to acknowledge the Orion Co. of South Korea with a special thank you for the kind donation of 10,000 Choco·Pies for the artist’s installation “Eat Choco·Pie Together” currently showing at the Ethan Cohen Gallery in New York.

  • Eat Choco-Pie Together

    10,000 Choco-Pie Installation (with pose by Mina Cheon aka Kim Il Soon) 153 x 159 x 5 inches Site specific, interactive, audience participation installation Sponsored by Orion Co., Korea And, whose Choco·Pie is it? The installation of 10,000 Choco·Pie for the audience to eat was kindly donated by Orion Co. in support of the installation Eat Choco·Pie Together that promotes Korean reunification and global peace. Kim Il Soon unconsciously exposed to the outside world, had her Duchampian moment of making a good decision.
  • 1.5

  • Happy North Korean Little Boy

    Date Work Completed: 2013-2014 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 48 x 1.5 inches Description: This is Kim Il Soon’s son Kim Siun, the first of the two siblings, singing on stage as a devoted happy North Korean little boy.
  • Happy North Korean Little Girl

    Date Work Completed: 2013-2014 Medium: acrylic on canvas Size: 36 x 48 x 1.5 inches Description: Kim Il Soon is blessed with two children, daughter Kim Sia and son Kim Siun. She does not have a husband since she is married to the nation, and by default married to the Dear Leader. This is her daughter Kim Si-a, singing on stage as a devoted happy North Korean little girl.
  • CHOCO·PIE PROPAGANDA

    Exhibition images at Ethan Cohen New York Gallery, January 28 - March 1, 2014 Stacks of boxes that housed the 10,000 Choco-Pies that came from Orion Co. Korea. Reference: Andy Warhol Brillo Boxes
  • Eat Choco-Pie Together

    10,000 Choco-Pie Installation (gallery installation shot at Ethan Cohen New York Gallery) 153 x 159 x 5 inches Site specific, interactive, audience participation installation Sponsored by Orion Co., Korea
  • Eat Choco-Pie Together

    At the Ethan Cohen New York gallery, Alongside paintings hung on the walls, the installation of Choco·Pies for the audience to eat promotes Korean unification and global peace through a Gonzalez-Torres style floor piece. The food is a South Korean confectionary has become an overnight sensation in North Korea as a smuggled good. 10,000 Choco-Pie Installation (gallery installation shot at Ethan Cohen New York Gallery) 153 x 159 x 5 inches Site specific, interactive, audience participation installation Sponsored by Orion Co., Korea
  • Eat Choco-Pie Together

    Date Work Completed: 2014 Medium: 10,000 Choco-Pie Installation Site specific, interactive, audience participation installation Size: 153 x 159 x 5 inches Description: At the Ethan Cohen New York gallery, Alongside paintings hung on the walls, the installation of Choco·Pies for the audience to eat promotes Korean unification and global peace through a Gonzalez-Torres style floor piece. The food is a South Korean confectionary has become an overnight sensation in North Korea as a smuggled good. Other: Choco-Pies were kindly donated by the South Korean manufacturing company Orion Co.
  • Kim Il Soon Recital

    Performance reciting at least 55 ways to say Dear Leader in North Korea by Mina Cheon aka Kim Il Soon, at Ethan Cohen New York Gallery, 2014. Alongside the paintings, the artist appears as Kim Il Soon to perform a mixture of Fluxus type score and political art campaign for global peace and Korean unification. The first time was during the Pulse Art Fair NY 2013, passing out peace buttons, and appeared in public spaces many times after.

POLIPOP AND PAINTINGS

Polipop & Paintings
Mina Cheon's Solo Exhibition at Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, Maryland
May 3 – June 30, 2012

Maryland Art Place (MAP) proudly announces Mina Cheon’s solo exhibition Polipop & Paintings, May 3 - June 30, 2012. The exhibition includes a series of digital paintings (8x5 feet each) coming from her mid-career solo exhibit Polipop (Political Pop Art) at the Sungkok Art Museum in Seoul, Korea; works that became an instant media sensation in Korea early this year.

After many years working as an installation and new media artist, the MAP solo exhibition illuminates Cheon’s background as a painter by combining her new Polipop digital paintings with her last hand-painted masterpiece, 15 Billion Years Painting. This mammoth 72x8 foot painting was created for the renowned abstract-expressionist painter Grace Hartigan between 1997 -1998 while Cheon worked with her at the Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Produced through the use of florescent acrylic on canvas, and lit under black light, MAP is showcasing this work for the first time under natural light. The 15 Billion Years painting is a celebration of popular science and a cosmic portrayal of the Universe. The painting was also the starting point of her artistic development. Cheon’s career communicates the relevance of working relationships between artist, institution and instructor over time, and the significance thereof.

Polipop is an art world that intersects politics and pop art. It takes serious discussions surrounding geopolitics of global, media culture and livens them up as accessible, eye-catching, fun pop art. With the use of strong primary colors and bold outlines, Cheon’s large scaled digital paintings mimic the language of advertisements, political posters, and propaganda banners. Each unique digital painting is collaged with images from the Internet, rescaled on the computer, and printed on canvas.

Some History:

In 2004, Cheon showed at the first Athena’s Daughters exhibition curated by Grace Hartigan for Maryland Art Place, where Cheon’s very first “political pop art” Half Moon Eyes documented her visitation to North Korea. This visit highlighted Cheon’s interest in political construction on beauty, and the triangular relationship between America and North and South Korea.

By 2008, Cheon’s Addressing Dolls exhibition at the C.Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore portrayed the stark contrast between communist North Korea and capitalist South Korea through girls’ playthings; Cheon exhibited her North Korean doll installation 99 Miss Kim(s) on one side and a series of South Korean life-size paper doll dresses Dresses for Different Events on the other.

Since Cheon’s visit to North Korea in 2004, she traveled to places she considered ‘contested spaces,’ where geo-political anxieties demonstrated conflicts between neighboring, yet rivalry Asian countries. Cheon went to Japan during the 2008 Summer Olympics in China specifically to interview Japanese people about their thoughts of the Olympics in Beijing. Cheon also traveled to Dokdo in 2009, a contested island that sits between Korea and Japan, an island that is still territorially fought over today. The documents of these trips are included in her new body of work that constantly questions the relationship between the East and West, as well as the relationship between Asian countries such as South and North Korea, Japan, and China.

Today Cheon uses the plethora of images of President Barack Obama as Polipop. Drawing comparisons to Chairman Mao in China, Cheon refers to Obama as the Polipop icon of our time. From the iconic American President and the war in the Middle East, to the rise of the Asian Century and circulation of global media, the exhibition includes digital paintings on Obama, race, pop culture, technology, capitalism, and Asia.

Unlike many Asian students coming to and leaving Baltimore for study, Korean-American new media artist, Cheon stayed in Baltimore becoming part of the faculty at MICA; living between Baltimore, New York, and Seoul – three cities, which she considers home. This year, Cheon presents three consecutive solo exhibitions in these cities; MAP being the second installment after the Sungkok Art Museum exhibition earlier this year. Cheon will end 2012 this fall at the White Box in New York City. All three exhibitions include the Polipop title and theme, however Cheon keeps a sense of individuality between each.

From her time with Grace Hartigan to how Cheon situated herself in Baltimore; her course towards the creation of Polipop was charted. Cheon’s artistic history cannot go unnoticed and as Hartigan once said to Cheon in 1998, “if anything, it is because you are a painter first.”

Available at MAP: POLIPOP exhibition catalog from the Sungkok Art Musum (Seoul, Korea, 2012) that includes writings from the Sungkok Art Museum’s chief curator Tcheon-nahm Park; art historian and scholar on race and culture, Leslie King-Hammond; cyber-feminist scholar Irina Aristarkhova; and cultural critic Pamela Haag. The catalog includes full color pages of Cheon’s digital paintings and her other video and sculptural installation works and is 170-page artist catalog. The exhibition at the Sungkok Art Museum that is documented in this catalog was covered in many Korean daily news, the Internet, radio, and television broadcast news including Korean Broadcasting (KBS), Seoul Broadcasting Station (SBS), YTN Korean 24 Hours News Channel, TV Chosun (Korea), and the English channel Korea’s Global TV Arirang.

Maryland Art Place
8 Market Place #100, Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 962-8565

  • Polipop and Paintings

    15 of Mina Cheon's Polipop Digital Paintings (8x5 feet each) from Korea were shipped over for a newly curated Polipop exhibitions at Maryland Art Place, the second of the Polipop exhibition series. This exhibition highlights Cheon's background as a painter and includes selections of digital paintings along side her last hand painting 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom, 5 sections that culminate in a 72 x 8 feet long painting. This gallery shot shows, three primary colors and digital paintings in the themes of Obama and the war, relationship between East and West.
  • Polipop and Paintings

    15 of Mina Cheon's Polipop Digital Paintings (8x5 feet each) from Korea were shipped over for a newly curated Polipop exhibitions at Maryland Art Place, the second of the Polipop exhibition series. This exhibition highlights Cheon's background as a painter and includes selections of digital paintings along side her last hand painting 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom, 5 sections that culminate in a 72 x 8 feet long painting. This gallery shot shows digital paintings in the themes of Obama and the war.
  • Polipop and Paintings

    15 of Mina Cheon's Polipop Digital Paintings (8x5 feet each) from Korea were shipped over for a newly curated Polipop exhibitions at Maryland Art Place, the second of the Polipop exhibition series. This exhibition highlights Cheon's background as a painter and includes selections of digital paintings along side her last hand painting 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom, 5 sections that culminate in a 72 x 8 feet long painting. This gallery shot shows digital paintings that looks at the relationship between East and West.
  • Polipop and Paintings

    15 of Mina Cheon's Polipop Digital Paintings (8x5 feet each) from Korea were shipped over for a newly curated Polipop exhibitions at Maryland Art Place, the second of the Polipop exhibition series.
  • Polipop and Paintings

    This gallery shot shows, large digital paintings looking at the relationship between North and South Korea. This image shows the relationship between the rooms at Maryland Art Place and the entering point into the 15 Billion Years painting project.
  • 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom

    Full gallery shots of 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom painting, 72 x 8 feet, acrylic on canvas, originally painted in 1997-8, restored and newly installed and first time under daylight viewing without black light.
  • Polipop and Paintings, Maryland Art Place, gallery shot showing Mina Cheon's Painting 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom

    Full gallery shots of 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom painting, 72 x 8 feet, acrylic on canvas, originally painted in 1997-8, restored and newly installed and first time under daylight viewing without black light.
  • 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom under Black Light

    Mina Cheon's 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom under Black Light at Maryland Art Place, June 7, 2012 As part of Mina Cheon’s Polipop & Paintings exhibition, Maryland Art Place (MAP) will hold a one-day event, which will illuminate Mina Cheon’s last hand-painted masterpiece, 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom under black light. This mammoth 72x8 foot hand painting was created for the renowned abstract-expressionist painter Grace Hartigan between 1997 -1998 while Cheon worked with her at the Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).
  • Mina Cheon's 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom under Black Light at Maryland Art Place

    One evening event: painting shown under black light to show the florescence in acrylic painting. June 7, 2012. The five sectioned painting totals 72 x 8 feet, it was originally painted in 1997-8 and brought out, restored, and newly installed at Maryland Art Place during Mina Cheon's exhibition Polipop and Paintings, May - June, 2012.
  • Mina Cheon's 15 Billion Years of the Traveling Atom under Black Light at Maryland Art Place

    One evening event: painting shown under black light to show the florescence in acrylic painting. June 7, 2012. The five sectioned painting totals 72 x 8 feet, it was originally painted in 1997-8 and brought out, restored, and newly installed at Maryland Art Place during Mina Cheon's exhibition Polipop and Paintings, May - June, 2012.

POLIPOP: POLITICAL POP ART

POLIPOP (Political Pop Art)
Mina Cheon's Solo Exhibition at Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, South Korea
January 12 – March 11, 2012

Korean-American new media artist Mina Cheon showcases POLIPOP (Political Pop Art) at the Sungkok Art Museum in Seoul, the first of three installments of Cheon’s consecutive solo-exhibitions to be held in 2012. After Seoul, Polipop projects will show at the Maryland Art Place in Baltimore and White Box in New York City.

Polipop is a compilation of artistic research that intersects politics and pop art that looks at contested spaces and geopolitics of global media culture. Through a postcolonial perspective, Cheon instigates the relationship between the East and West, as well as the relationship between Asian countries such as South and North Korea, and Korea, Japan, and China.

As once occurred with Chairman Mao, today’s plethora of images of President Barack Obama are political pop, hence Cheon highlights Obama as the polipop icon of our time. Cheon dedicates a gallery in the museum to him, thematically dividing the show into three large themes that reflect today’s political pop culture. The museum show includes the Obama Room, the Dokdo Room, and the Diamond Room. From the iconic American President and the War in the Middle East to the rise of the Asian Century and circulation of global media, the exhibition includes artworks on Obama, race, pop culture, technology, and capitalism.

Cheon’s Polipop includes more than 50 new pieces. There are over 40 new 8x5 feet digital paintings that look like propaganda banners gone pop art; animation of Obama dancing to Ally McBeal’s dancing baby “Ooga Chaka” song; video installation of traveling to Dokdo island, the contested island that sits between Korea and Japan, both physically by boat and virtually through Google Earth, Second Life, and Dokdo Internet virtual tours; and a mirrored room of massive light installation in the shape of diamonds. Image a Day: Occupy 2011 is an installation made of digital photo frames which rotates 365 images selected from the Internet (one image per day) to document global events all throughout 2011.In a glance, 2011 begins with the up rise in Egypt and ends with Occupy Demonstrations all over the world, with some other media worthy events such as the British Royal Wedding, Japan’s Tsunami and nuclear crisis, on-going global natural disasters, and the passing of Steve Jobs and Kim Jong-il.

The exhibition catalog includes writings from the Sungkok Art Museum’s chief curator Tcheon-nahm Park; art historian and scholar on race and culture, Leslie King-Hammond; cyber-feminist scholar Irina Aristarkhova; and cultural critic Pamela Haag.

Cheon’s interest in political pop art began in 2004 when she visited the North Korea’s Mt. Kumkangsan and made artwork about the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and continued as she traveled to Japan during the 2008 Summer Olympics in China specifically to interview Japanese people what they thought of the Olympics in Beijing, and highlighted while traveling to Doko in 2009, the contested island that sits between Korea and Japan.

Sungkok Art Museum
1-101 Shinmoon-ro 2ga, Jongro-gu, SEOUL 110-062, KOREA
T. +82 (0)2 737 7650
http://www.sungkokmuseum.com

"Polipop" (Artist Statement)

In my mind, a whole world of political pop art exists in the art world but has not yet been fully historicized. Political pop is a style of its own. It ranges from Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair to Barbara Kruger’s interplay between image and text to the array of contemporary Chinese artists and the abundant pop imagery of chairman Mao. It also describes Wang Guangyi, who is known as a “political pop artist,” as exemplified by Coca-Cola (1990-1993), part of The Great Criticism Series that responds to the westernization of communist China. Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei himself has risen as a cultural political pop icon due to the controversy surrounding his arrest by the Chinese government, in turn, artists around the world created politically charged pop artwork to demonstrate for his release, hence bearing witness to unforeseen polipop culture in the making.

As once happened with chairman Mao however, today’s plethora of images of Obama are by far the most exceedingly political pop, making him and his image the polipop icon of our time. Certainly Shepard Farie’s Obama poster is the ultimate political pop image, but Joyce Scott’s Obama White, Obama Black is more important in bringing out the racial controversies and discussions surrounding Obama’s candidacy and presidency. Scott’s piece influenced my Obama series, where, pop elements aside, the racial and class politics, the subject and content, were drawn out to the forefront of the piece.

“Polipop,” my solo exhibition at the Sungkok Art Museum in Seoul (January 13 – March 11, 2012) showcases a variety of political pop artwork. Unhindered by one strict methodology, process, or medium, the work includes everything from digital paintings, video, sculpture, and installation, all categorized as new media art. Polipop is meant to be fun. Like pop art, it takes the serious into the realm of playful and uses the language of entertainment and the kitsch. My new body of work uses primary colors. Many of the pieces are strongly outlined like propaganda posters or banners, and each image, whether it is a digital painting or a video piece, is most successful when it can simply illustrate a clear point about politics and media, the message I want to get across.

The Sungkok Museum’s Main Building has three large galleries, all three spaces totaling around 5000 square feet, and each gallery consists of distinct themes related to political pop art. Gallery 1 is the “Obama Room,” celebrating the icon of polipop, President Barack Obama; Gallery 2 is the “Dokdo Room,” looking at national conflicts between neighboring Asian countries such as North and South Korea, Japan, and China; and Gallery 3 is the “Diamond Room,” displaying the height of capitalism or its downfall.

Each room is characterized by one distinct installation that addresses the themes of the room, surrounded by many works that I call “Polipop digital paintings” which are installed to coincide with each theme of the rooms. The Obama Room’s walls are primarily yellow; Dokdo Room is red and blue; Diamond Room is white. Each digital painting is a glicee print on stretched canvas that was collaged by various images on the Internet, and printed at large scale of 8 x 5 feet, totaling 46 pieces to the series, 42 shown at the museum.

  • Mina Cheon Polipop Feature in Arirang, Korea's Global TV

    Artist Mina Cheon is featured in Korea's Global TV Arirang, English Channel, in the show Arirang Today. Cheon's mid-career solo exhibition "POLIPOP" was shown at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea from Jan. 12 - March 11, 2012.
  • Polipop: Diamond Room

    Gallery view of Diamond Room, Mina Cheon's solo exhibition "Polipop," at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012. Mina Cheon's Polipop exhibition includes Polipop digital paintings, video and sculpture installations. This gallery view shows light installation "Diamonds R 4Ever," which is a florescent light installation in the shape of diamonds, scale is at the size of gallery, with mirror at the end wall.
  • Polipop: Diamond Room

    Gallery view of Diamond Room, Mina Cheon's solo exhibition "Polipop," at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012. Mina Cheon's Polipop exhibition includes Polipop digital paintings, video and sculpture installations. This gallery view shows Polipop digital paintings in the themes of critiquing capitalism, desiring beauty and diamonds, constructs of the Western world.
  • Polipop: Diamond Room

    Gallery view of Diamond Room, Mina Cheon's solo exhibition "Polipop," at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012. Mina Cheon's Polipop exhibition includes Polipop digital paintings, video and sculpture installations. This gallery view shows the main digital painting Polipop of the exhibition and Occupy 2011 digital frame monitors digital media piece that deals with collecting a single political pop image of the day throughout 2011. The Diamond Room will include another new piece, Image a Day: Occupy 2011, which is a wall full of digital photo frames that individually
  • Polipop: Dokdo Room

    Gallery view of Dokdo Room, Mina Cheon's solo exhibition "Polipop," at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012. Mina Cheon's Polipop exhibition includes Polipop digital paintings, video and sculpture installations. Gallery 2 is the Dokdo Room, a room dedicated to looking at the relationships between neighboring Asian countries such as North and South Korea, and Japan and China, and images that are produced in media culture about each other’s culture, including images of hatred.
  • Polipop: Dokdo Room

    Gallery view of Dokdo Room, Mina Cheon's solo exhibition "Polipop," at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012. Mina Cheon's Polipop exhibition includes Polipop digital paintings, video and sculpture installations. This gallery view shows Polipop digital paintings in the themes of rise of Asia, downfall of the Western world, and Dokdo, the contested island between Korea and Japan.
  • Polipop: Dokdo Room

    Gallery view of Dokdo Room, Mina Cheon's solo exhibition "Polipop," at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012. Mina Cheon's Polipop exhibition includes Polipop digital paintings, video and sculpture installations. This gallery view shows Polipop digital paintings in the themes of rise of Asia, downfall of the Western world, and Dokdo, the contested island between Korea and Japan. This room looks at the relationship between Asian countries, as well as the relationship between the East and West.
  • Polipop: Obama Room

    Gallery view of Obama Room, Mina Cheon's solo exhibition "Polipop," at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012. Mina Cheon's Polipop exhibition includes Polipop digital paintings, video and sculpture installations. This gallery view shows Polipop digital paintings in the themes of Obama, the year of the dragon 2012, the war in the Middle East, and issues of race and culture. Many of the digital paintings in the Obama Room are about Obama and the dragon, since the exhibition is the first one of 2012 at the museum, the year of the dragon.
  • Polipop: Obama Room

    Gallery view of Obama Room, Mina Cheon's solo exhibition "Polipop," at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012. Mina Cheon's Polipop exhibition includes Polipop digital paintings, video and sculpture installations. This gallery view shows Polipop sculpture and video installation Obama Dancing. The Obama Room is dedicated to the icon of polipop, President Obama and also the year 2012, the year of the dragon. In this gallery, the central installation piece is “Dancing Obama” where DIY Obama action figure, originally manufactured by Jailbreak Toys, Inc.
  • Obama Dancing

    Gallery view of Obama Room, Mina Cheon's solo exhibition "Polipop," at the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012. Obama Dancing, video installation 2012 Polipop (Political Pop Art) by Mina Cheon was first shown at Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea in the Obama Room, Polipop, solo-exhibition by Mina Cheon. This is one of the videos of the three channel video installation with rotating Styrofoam sculpture of Obama. The installation was also later installed at the Seoul Olympic Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea between February 7 - March 31, 2013.

THE DOKDO PROJECT

The Dokdo Project by Mina Cheon has been exhibited in varied locations, showcasing a diverse range of use of media and installation. The project is about an island known as Dokdo, and while the artist traveled there several times physically since 2009, she has been working on conceptual virtual renditions of traveling there virtually through cyberspace. The works of art produced through the project includes video single channel, video installation, virtual fly through, digital paintings, and prints on hanji, traditional Korean rice paper.

The Dokdo Project

Dokdo is a small, infamous, and contested Island of Asia that sits between Korea and Japan. Originally proposed as a new media immersive installation at the White Box NYC Art Center, it has developed into a virtual fly thru project and video installations.

The Dokdo Island is geographically located between Korea and Japan in the East Sea. This symbolic Island in Asia has been historically fought over territorially and for natural resources for decades between Korea and Japan and now brought to Manhattan as an art installation, another Island, creating a dialog about geographic locations having greater symbolic meaning beyond their physical spaces. Mina Cheon, who is an expert of cultural comparative studies, scholar on new media theory and performance theory, and author of book, Shamanism and Cyberspace (Atropos Press, Dresden and New York, 2009) looks at contested geo-political sites such as Dokdo as a part of her social activist work, and re-stages them as new media artworks for the public.

Currently, the visitation to Dokdo Island but Cheon has traveled there numerous times and landed on the island Dokdo by boat. She documents this and video collages with her virtual travel through the Internet Tour Sites, Google Earth, and as an avatar in Second Life.

Traveling to Dokdo, three single-channel video installation, 45 minutes loop, and the collaborative installation with Nara Park at KAFFNY Visual Art Exhibition at Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Gallery in NYC, fall 2013.

Traveling to Dokdo by Mina Cheon is a three single-channel video art piece that works as a video montage and installation. The work highlights the symbolic meaning of both physically and virtually getting to the desolate Islets, which is geographically situated between Korea and Japan. Dokdo, which has been co-nationally disputed over belonging, is wrought with unresolved international geopolitics and legal battling over the sea-lands, fishery line, and natural resources. The symbolic meaning however that raises the issue of nationalism tied to territory is far greater than the physical property being fought over. South Korean media plays up the country’s Dokdo happy rhetoric to pacify the public at times, while at other times stir emotional fervor to reclaim Dokdo on a daily basis through historicization, demonstration, tourism and merchandising. Who owns Dokdo? With technology, everyone has a piece of Dokdo.

The video footages in the piece include traveling to Dokdo by boat and by other means such as via Google Earth, online 3D tour, and Second Life. It also includes footages of the artist Cheon running the Dokdo Marathon in Seoul in October 2011 wearing a spy camera and capturing all the people running to celebrate Korea's national Dokdo Day, October 25. This video is juxtaposed with an overlapping inner video frame of the artist as "URKorean," a Korean tiger avatar, roaming around Dokdo in Second Life. Many other layers of documenting Dokdo is shown as a way to reconstruct the idea of the Islets which is experienced through media and the imagination as larger than life yet paradoxically miniscule in actual scale. The range of sounds include from breathing sound during the demonstration run, water waves hitting the boat traveling to Dokdo, to downloadable K-pop music soundtrack "Daehanminguk," the 2010 Korea World Cup song by BEG, Rain, 4Minute and more, as well as the famous 1982 pop song “Dokdo is Our Land,” sung by Jung Kwang-Tae, that has remained to this day synonymous to the national anthem.

First shown at the Sungkok Art Museum last year in Seoul, South Korea during Cheon’s mid-career solo exhibition “Polipop: Political Pop Art,” which became an overnight media sensation in Korea, this piece is uniquely displayed here alongside Nara Park’s site-specific sculptural installation at KAFFNY, Korean American Film Festival New York, Visual Art exhibition at the Sylvia Wald and Kim Po Gallery in NYC, that alludes to the major shaping of the Islets. The two pieces together overlay physicality with illusions of light, video, and shadow, and simultaneously question the identity and fragility of Dokdo.

  • 20 Minutes of Dokdo (continued)

    This image is also from the documentation of the actual travel to Dokdo, the physical tour there in 2009 by the artist. One of the projects that is being proposed is to recreate this landing in a gallery space and allow people to stay in the gallery for only twenty minutes increments to make the simulacra experience as real as possible to the absurdity of the real touristy experience. Part of research image collection by Mina Cheon.
  • Virtual Travel: Dokdo

    Continued project on Dokdo, to be shown at the Sungkok Art Museum, in Cheon's solo exhibition called "Mina Cheon and Political Pop Art." This piece shows the virtual traveling to Dokdo which became available online after the beef import riot at the city hall, Seoul in 2008. It was created as a way to distract the public from issues of FTA between Korea and America by turning the public's anti-American sentiment to Dokdo Happy next day. Part of research image collection by Mina Cheon.
  • “Kodak Moment at Dokdo”

    Mina Cheon's Polipop Digital Painting about Dokdo, 8 x 5 feet, archival giclee digital print on canvas. The artist traveled to Dokdo both physically by boat and virtually by Google Earth. She felt vertigo on both accounts, and seasick.
  • Off to See the Wizard, Hanji Art Project NYC

    Mina Cheon's Polipop Digital Painting about Dokdo, 8 x 5 feet, archival giclee digital print on canvas. Dokdo, is a contested island that sits between Korea and Japan, which has been fought over territorially for decades between the two countries. Media often deploys this island to call on nationalism in South Korea and to create anti-sentiments towards the Japanese.
  • The Dokdo Project

    Short video to promote The Dokdo Project at Whitebox NYC. Mina Cheon's "Traveling to Dokdo" includes video of going to Dokdo by boat, coming from Dokdo by boat, and a center video of various virtual traveling to the island that is possible with today's technology such as visiting Dokdo via Google Earth, online 3D tour, and through Second Life. It also includes footages of the artist running the Dokdo Marathon in Seoul in October 2011 wearing a spy camera and capturing all the people running to celebrate Korea's national Dokdo Day, October 25.
  • A Virtual Fly-thru of 3D Model of The Dokdo Project

    A fly-thru of 3D model of "The Dokdo Project" at White Box NYC to be exhibited in 2013. The sound is from the actual sound recording while being on the boat riding around the Island Dokdo. The controversial island that sits between Korea and Japan called Dokdo is created as a 3D model in preparation of the future installation at White Box, alternative space in NYC. Comprised of two distinct islets West (Seodo) and East (Dongdo) islands, Dokdo is situated at the space as an exhibition of faux nature, film prop-like setting made out of clumps of Styrofoam and paint.
  • Traveling to Dokdo, Dokdo Project at Sungkok Art Museum

    Gallery shot, Dokdo Room, Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea, 2012 Mina Cheon's Polipop exhibition includes Polipop digital paintings, video and sculpture installations. This gallery view shows the video installation about Dokdo, the contested island between Korea and Japan. Traveling to Dokdo, three single-channel video installation, 45 minutes loop, was first shown at the Sungkok Art Museum last year in Seoul, South Korea during Cheon’s mid-career solo exhibition “Polipop: Political Pop Art.”
  • Traveling to Dokdo

    Front installation by Nara Park for KAFFNY 2013, Korean American Film Festival in NY Visual Art Exhibition at Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery Mina Cheon, Traveling to Dokdo, three-channel video installation, 2012.
  • Traveling to Dokdo, Dokdo Project at KAFFNY

    Mina Cheon, Traveling to Dokdo, three single-channel video installation, 45 minutes loop, 2012. Traveling to Dokdo by Mina Cheon is a three single-channel video art piece that works as a video montage and installation. The work highlights the symbolic meaning of both physically and virtually getting to the desolate Islets, which is geographically situated between Korea and Japan. Dokdo, which has been co-nationally disputed over belonging, is wrought with unresolved international geopolitics and legal battling over the sea-lands, fishery line, and natural resources.

ADDRESSING DOLLS

Addressing Dolls
Mina Cheon's Solo Exhibition at C.Grimalids Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland
February 28 - March 29, 2008

The exhibition was awarded the 2008 Best Solo Show by the City Paper ans was accompanied by an essay written by Brian Willems, critic and professor of literature at the University of Split, Croatia.

By 2008, Cheon's work developed in a new direction that is informed by theoretical research on specific cultural comparatives; how nations and identities are formed through the influence of media and politics. This exhibition highlighted the stark contrast between North and South Korean ideologies through a display of girlâ??s playthings such as dolls and paper dolls. The exhibition displayed life size paper doll dresses which were reproductions of the original 70s paper doll dresses printed in South Korea when Westernization was the national propaganda. In the gallery, on the opposite wall of the dresses, the installation of 99 handmade North Korean dolls in military uniforms celebrated communism of North Korea. While the South Korean doll dresses alluded to the plurality of female beauty and image, the North Korean dolls were staged in great uniformity.

The show exhibits her controversial work 99 Miss Kim(s) for the first time in America. This installation is a wall full of 99 handmade North Korean identical female military dolls and the piece commemorates the anniversary of North Koreaâ??s establishment, which is September 9. Accompanying this work was a series of new work by Cheon, Dresses for Different Events, which, in contrast to the North Korean dolls, display the variety of attire produced for South Korean paper dolls of the 1970s. This body of work relates back to Cheon's childhood, growing up in South Korea in the 70s and spending hours each day playing with paper dolls, while the national propaganda of this time in South Korea was about Westernization in industry and technology. Cheon revisits these dolls and looks at how the notion of Western and colonial influences is revealed through the dresses of these out-dated paper doll prints, for example, all the dolls being Caucasian with over-the-top Victorian dresses. For this exhibition, Cheon selects a range of dresses from vintage paper dolls prints that she has been collecting for several years and has them blown up to a life-size scale to produce a ghostly effect of South Korean development towards capitalism, Americanization, and Westernization. Another set of smaller prints entitled "Party Dresses & Home Dresses" show the difference between home attire versus party costume, which is an absurd distinction when one sees these dresses since they are all fluffy costumes.

Addressing Dolls then is about spaces of conflict which has been a theme in Cheon's past art work such as in the interactive media piece Half Moon Eyes that was shown in the US and Korea between 2004-5. This piece dealt with Cheon's visit to North Korea in 2004 during the height of Bush administration, responding with particular attention to North Korean women, and then drawing connections to the triangular relationship between South and North Koreas and America. This exhibition was also a part of Cheon's growing Polipop (political pop art) series of work which includes the "99 Miss Kim(s)" as well as her "Half Moon Eyes" pieces shown in both the United States and in South Korea.

The body of work has traveled to the Korean Embassy in DC as well as housed in the collection of the former US Ambassador Kathleen Stephens' public sector of residence in Seoul, Korea. This exhibition was reviewed in Voices of America which broadcasted radio to North Korea, The Sun Paper, Artist Organized Arts, The City Paper, Radar Redux, Urbanite, WYPR, 88.1 Radio, NPR News Station.

The Sun Paper
An artist wonders
What's driving the conflict between North Korea and South Korea now?
March 09, 2008|By Mina Cheon (Artist Statement)

When I travel between the U.S. and South Korea, it is hard not to notice the striking differences between Korean and American media when it comes to world events. As an artist, I am intrigued by this cultural and political media gap. The two countries may be allies, but each has its own version of reality.

With my artwork, I try to make note of the differences - in particular regarding the relationships among North Korea, South Korea and the United States. As a Korean-American female artist living and working in both Korea and the U.S., I often question what drives the conflict between North Korea and South Korea today.

The tension between the two Koreas seems like a bigger deal in America than in South Korea. If you go to Seoul today and ask people if they are concerned about North Korean nuclear weapons, chances are that you will get a casual smile and the response: "What weapons?"

I am interested in observing how the American media present the concept of the enemy. Could U.S. politics play a role in the increased focus on North Korea and the potential for conflict? South Korea is a shining example of U.S.-influenced capitalism, while North Korea exemplifies a failed communist regime. America's vision of a binary world - allies and enemies - was a symptom of the conflict between the U.S. and the Soviets. Now the Soviets are gone, but the binary worldview is intact.

The recent performance by the New York Philharmonic in Pyongyang raises many questions. Who benefits from this type of classical music/pingpong diplomacy? Why was it necessary for the trip to have occurred now? And whom was the performance really for?

To me, there is a disturbing postcolonial undertone here - one that my American friends may not easily understand. There is a narrative here of the "civilized" and classically trained Westerners called to enlighten the primitive "others" of an unfortunate, backward Asian country.

My exhibit Addressing Dolls responds to the North Korean-South Korean conflict and the precarious relationship between the Koreas and America in a seemingly nonpolitical way: through girls' playthings, such as handmade dolls and paper doll dresses.

One piece, 99 Miss Kim(s), is a wall-size installation of 99 North Korean military "fembot" dolls lined up in perfect unison. These figures all share a name, Kim - the most common surname, which is also shared by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. The images draw attention to the fact that North Korean women are idealized and fetishized by many South Korean men, who tend to view them as more beautiful and more authentically "Korean." This phenomenon is not unlike the way many Westerners, especially men, exoticize Asian women in general.

Dresses for Different Events, by contrast, consists of paper doll dresses blown up to life size. These dresses are scanned from actual South Korean paper doll dresses from the 1970s, a time of increasing Westernization and industrialization.

The dresses portray Western fashions, ranging from Victorian to 1970s disco style. Using these paper doll dresses, I tried to convey how Westernization, Americanization and capitalism are contained even in everyday objects back then - colonial and Western influences in South Korea that are still prevalent today.

Artists have contributed in many ways to life and society. Today, artists are also cultural critiquers, redefining their role as social commentators.

Ever since North Korea was named a member of the "axis of evil," it has been hard for me to neglect the American political agendas behind the way that nation is presented in the media as a way to propagate fear of the "other." This, in turn, generates support for additional surveillance of the population and more spending of resources on homeland security. It even increased the possibility of war.

Noticing things that often go unnoticed, and reacting to the political climate, are among the roles of an artist.

  • Addressing Dolls

    Gallery view of "Addressing Dolls" exhibition by Cheon at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, in 2008. View of gallery shot of "Dresses for Different Event," a series of 10 large paper doll dresses images originally from South Korea in the 70s, blown up to life size and custom framed. The names of the paper doll dresses included, Home Dress, Party Dress, Korean Fan Dance Dress, Miss Korea, Kimono... labels and dresses from the original paper doll prints of the 70s.
  • Addressing Dolls

    Gallery view of "Addressing Dolls" exhibition by Cheon at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, in 2008. Towards the back gallery, this particular space had three pieces in a triangular position, with "Miss Korea" doll dress in the center and "Japanese Kimono" and "Korean Fan Dance" doll dresses to each side. The three pieces reflected the relationship between Korea and Japan seen through beauty and modernization.
  • Addressing Dolls

    Gallery view of "Addressing Dolls" exhibition by Cheon at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, in 2008. The left side shows images of "Dresses for Different Event," paper doll dresses images originally from South Korea in the 70s, blown up to life size and custom framed. The right side is the wall of "99 Miss Kim(s)," doll installation of 99 North Korean military dolls. The walls display the stark contrast between capitalist South Korean nation versus communist North Korean nation in girls play things.
  • 99 Miss Kim(s)

    Gallery view of "Addressing Dolls" exhibition by Cheon at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, in 2008. The exhibition wall is of "99 Miss Kim(s)," doll installation of 99 North Korean military dolls which were handmade, and each one of them placed in plastic containers. 99 represents September 9th, the anniversary of communism in North Korea. The female military dolls were placed on the opposite wall to the piece "Dresses for Different Event," paper doll dresses images originally from South Korea in the 70s, blown up to life size and custom framed.
  • 99 Miss Kim(s)

    Detail of doll installation at C.Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD, 2008
  • 99 Miss Kim(s)

    Detail of doll installation at C.Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD, 2008 Gallery view of "Addressing Dolls" exhibition by Cheon at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, in 2008. The exhibition wall is of "99 Miss Kim(s)," doll installation of 99 North Korean military dolls which were handmade, and each one of them placed in plastic containers. 99 represents September 9th, the anniversary of communism in North Korea.
  • Dresses for Different Events: Miss Korea

    Archival digital print on paper, 44 x 66", edition 2, 2008 South Korean paper doll dresses from the 70s during the time of Westernization as national propaganda.
  • Dresses for Different Events: Party Dress

    Archival digital print on paper, 44 x 66", edition 2, 2008 South Korean paper doll dresses from the 70s during the time of Westernization as national propaganda.
  • Addressing Dolls on Radar Redux

    by Jack Livingston, a Video documentary of Mina Cheon's Addressing Dolls exhibition at C. Grimaldis Gallery in 2008.

HALF MOON EYES AND DIZZ/PLACEMENT

Half Moon Eyes

Mina Cheon's first Political Pop Artwork

Interactive Media Installation with Touchscreen Technology that showed documentation of Cheon's travel to North Korea in 2004

Exhibited simultaneously in the United States and South Korea at the Maryland Art Place, Baltimore and Insa Art Space, Art Council, Seoul, Korea between November 2004 to January 2005.

During the summer of 2008, a South Korean female tourist was shot by a North Korean soldier while she was touring Mt. Kumkangsan. The tour is now closed down and the opening of another great North Korean mountain, Baekdusan, never occurred as planned. Half Moon Eyes is an interactive art piece that shows rare documentation of the tour of Mt. Kumkangan in North Korea before it was shut down and before North Korea completely isolated itself from the rest of the world. The piece takes you from South Korea to North Korea through an embodied camera documentation of the travel to the mountain, at a time when it was forbidden to shoot any video in many places along the way.

Half Moon Eyes combines technology with politics while mimicking the voting booth and official ballot forms used in the 2004 American presidential elections. With this artwork, the audience is invited to enter the voting booths to choose images from a myriad web of interactive animation, video, and sound on the touchscreen monitors. When one touches the screen however, the private endeavor is revealed in the public space with simultaneous double screen projection of the interaction, suspended in the gallery space. The private interaction being shared by the public creates a sense of surveillance and paranoia. And rather than selecting presidents and parties to cast a vote, the piece calls for a space of reflection and contemplation regarding the issues surrounding voting in America, its geopolitical consequences, and today’s relationship between Korea and America. Some video footage shows the camera being inspected, the tape being confiscated, and forbidden documentation at the border and in North Korea. Other clips range from animated North Korea female army dolls, North Korean depictions of sirens, the South Korean reception of North Korean national cheerleaders, and above all, medical video documentation of South Koreans’ most common eye surgery procedure, blepharoplasties, which is surgically creating eye-lids, which Koreans admire in Caucasian large eyes.

In Half Moon Eyes, Cheon is concerned with how the American media has simultaneously highlighted and isolated North Korea. Her artwork responds to recent American politics that coin North Korea as a charter member of the “axis of evil,” and explores the triangular relationship between America, South Korea, and North Korea through a post-colonial perspective. Here, Cheon investigates newly articulated forms of Orientalism in cultural symbols and reproductive media that further the creation of the Other within power structures of these nations. And alongside America and North Korea, Cheon looks at how South Korea remains the in-between terrain, participating in both ends, producing and consuming Otherness, exploiting and recreating post-colonial relations under the premise of Western media and late capitalism consumer culture.

The title, “half moon eyes,” refers to the common association of Asian women’s exotic eye shapes as small and delicate in comparison to Caucasian eyes. The piece also represents South Korean fetishism toward North Korean women’s beauty, especially their supposed authentic ‘half moon eyes,’ that metaphorize South Korea’s desire for cultural purity. Similar to the way that Western culture projects Asian women as different, South Koreans position North Koreans (especially women) as closer to nature, under the backdrop of their underdeveloped totalitarian society. At the same time, Cheon points out a cultural paradox of South Korea’s consumer culture and its industry of plastic surgery that allows many South Korean women to undergo double eyelid surgery (blepharoplasties) to attain ideal Western-looking eyes. Such cultural phenomena propose a complex mess of events: capitalism gone awry, the consumption of Western glamour, the projection of the fictive realities of others, reproductive mimesis within cultures, and the acts of desiring or being desired as the means to establish cultural and national identity.

The media piece is central component to the installation that mimics the first series of voting booths that were created for the 2004 Presidential Elections that had digital touchscreen monitors. The voting booths allowed viewers to enter a private interactive viewing of a myriad media piece on a touchscreen monitor that included animations, video, texts, and sound about the artist's traveling experience to North Korea in 2004.

While touching the screen that seem to look like a voting ballot, the piece takes the viewer to spaces that indicate information connected to the relationship between North and South Korea. The piece also allows for contemplation on how the two countries relationship (severed by the 38th parallel physically and the stark ideological differences between capitalist and communist nations psychologically) is determined by the outcomes of voting in America, and how American politics affected global politics in general. The private viewing was projected onto large screens outside the booths and in the gallery, blurring the lines between privacy and public domain with technology, especially commenting on the development of technologies in relation to politics.

The title "Half Moon Eyes," alluded to the beauty of North Korean women and their eye shapes, which was the metaphor used throughout the digital interactive piece to address the otherness that is created by media and politics. One can look at various footages of traveling through the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea, heading towards the North, and finally in North Korea at the Keumkangsan Mountain resort. Another navigation path allows one to follow the imaginary beauty of North Korean women who appear as acrobats, cheerleaders, police, nurses, and bus drivers. From the common North Korean woman, entertainers, mythological creatures, sirens, to military femme bots; they appear from real documentary forms to illustrations and fictive animations â?? furthering the notion of exotic othering that occurs with the violence of media, and binary schism between North and South Korean cultures as seen through mass media and news today.

The piece was exhibited at the Maryland Art Place (November to December 2004) during the Athena's Daughters exhibition, curated by Grace Hartigan and highlighting her protegees. And in Seoul, South Korea, the piece was also shown at the same time (December 2004 to January 2005) during Cheon's solo exhibition "Dizz/placement" at the Insa Art Space, Art Council. The piece received press coverage including The Sun Paper and in Korea, YTN 24 hrs Channel News and the Cultural Broadcasting News, as well as People's Newspaper, Cultural Daily, and the Wolgan Misool Arts Monthly Magazine of Seoul. The piece was created during the time when Bush Junior was re-elected as President. The interactivity with its sound, text, animation, and videos take less than two hours for its full viewing. Some people stay for a couple of minutes or remain in the booths for a lengthy period touching all parts of the interactive media piece.

"Dizz/placement" was a solo exhibition by Mina Cheon (aka MINALIZA1000) in 2005 at the Insa Art Space, Art Council, Seoul, Korea

The Korean Culture & Arts Foundation (KCAF)
Insa Art Space, Arts Council Korea, 100-5 GwanhoonDong (3-4th Floor)
JongnoGu, Seoul, Korea / T: (02) 760 - 4721~3
MINALIZA1000 Solo Exhibition, Invited by KCAF
Interactive Multi-media Installation Exhibition

“Dizz/placement," January 19 – February 6, 2005

Insa Art Space proudly announces Mina Cheon’s (Korean-American artist, MINALIZA1000) solo exhibition, “Dizz/placement,” (January 19 – February 6, 2005) which highlights her most recent interactive multi-media artwork, Half Moon Eyes, that focuses on the subject of North Korean women. This artwork is timely, it responds to the current geo-political climate and of the global warfare that distinguishes the relationship between Korea and America. Also, the media piece is accompanied by a display of 99 handmade North Korean female army dolls.

In Half Moon Eyes, Cheon is concerned with how the American media has simultaneously highlighted and isolated North Korea. Her artwork responds to recent American politics coining North Korea as a charter of “axis of evil,” and explores the triangular relationship between America, South Korea, and North Korea through a post-colonial perspective. Here, Cheon investigates newly articulated forms of Orientalism in cultural symbols and reproductive media that further the creation of Other within power structures of these nations. And along side America and North Korea, Cheon looks at how South Korea remains in the in-between terrain, participating in both ends, producing and consuming Otherness, exploiting and recreating post-colonial relations under the premise of Western media and Late Capitalism consumption culture.

The title, “half moon eyes,” refers to the common association of Asian women’s exotic eye shapes as small and delicate in comparison to Caucasian eyes. The piece also represents South Korean fetishism towards North Korean women’s beauty, especially of their supposed authentic ‘half moon eyes,’ that metaphorize South Korea’s desire for cultural purity. Similar to the way Western culture projects Asian women as different, South Koreans positions North Koreans (especially women) as being closer to nature, under the backdrop of their underdeveloped totalitarian society. At the same time, Cheon points out a cultural paradox of South Korea’s consumption culture and its industry of plastic surgery that allows many South Korean women to undergo double eye-lid surgery (blepharoplasties) to attain ideal Western-looking eyes. Such cultural phenomena proposes a complex mess of events: capitalism gone awry, consumption of Western glamour, projecting fictive realities of others, reproductive mimesis within cultures, and to desire or be desired as a way of establishing cultural and national identity.

Half Moon Eyes combines technology with politics while mimicking the voting booth and official ballot form recently used in the 2004 American presidential elections. With this artwork, the audience is invited to enter the voting booths to choose images from a myriad web of interactive animation, video, and sound on the touchscreen monitors. What one touches the screen however, the private endeavor is revealed in the public space with simultaneous double screen projection of the interaction suspended in the gallery space. The private interaction being shared by the public creates a sense of surveillance and paranoia. And rather than selecting presidents and parties to cast a vote, the piece calls for a space of reflection and contemplation regarding the issues surrounding voting in America, its geopolitical consequences, and about today’s relationship between Korea and America. Some video footage shows the camera being inspected, the tape being confiscated, and forbidden documentation at the border and in North Korea. Other clips range from animated North Korea female army dolls, North Korean depiction of sirens, South Korean reception of North Korean national cheerleaders, and above all, medical video documentation of South Korean’s most common eye surgery procedure blepharoplasties.

In entirety, the exhibition includes this work as well as other older works that challenges the viewing mode of art by enforcing the sense of displacement with awkward interactive situations. Thus, the title “Dizz/placement” connotes the dizziness produced by the displaced sensation of the space experienced by the audience. While the artwork Half Moon Eyes creates a sense of psychological displacement through its political content and the despair between the South and North Korean relationship, other works such as Groundless and Desiring Infinity, which are interactive string and media installations, create actual physical displacement through the disorientated spatial experience. Continually, the video single channel pieces such as Pixelated Humanism, Mother Universe, and Dotodot further enforces discomfort with its video subject matter about fragmentation, the grotesque, and the scrutiny of body mapping.

Furthermore, as an extension of Half Moon Eyes media work, there is an object installation, handmade 99 Miss Kim (s), which is a wall full of 99 North Korean female army dolls, lined up and spaced equally on display. These dolls are all named Miss Kim, which is the most common name of either Koreas, and they are identical, mass produced, and represent the desire of North Korean women and their half moon eyes. The number 99 symbolizes GuGuJul, September 9th, the national holiday commemorating North Korea’s establishment. “99 Miss Kim(s)” have the most typical Korean doll faces and Cheon herself designed the uniform replicating North Korean female soldiers’ outfits.

The Korean Culture & Arts Foundation invited Cheon to install this exhibition and she is debuting a culmination of four years of her media artwork done in the United States for the first time in Korea. Mina Cheon is currently a Professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, Maryland) and the Director of the MICA Korea program, summer study abroad program in South Korea. She has shown her artwork in Baltimore, New York, L.A., Taiwan, and Italy and is an active artist working between the America and Korea.

  • Half Moon Eyes Interactive Media Piece

    HALF MOON EYES 2004 by Mina Cheon This is a 12 minutes movie file of a flythru of Mina Cheon's "Half Moon Eyes" interactive media piece created in 2004 upon returning from her trip from Mt. Keumkangsan of North Korea. The media piece is central component to the installation that mimics the first series of voting booths that were created for the 2004 Presidential Elections that had digital touchscreen monitors.
  • Part of Half Moon Eyes

    A screen shot of Half Moon Eyes Media piece. This is a monument with a mural painting of first great leader Kim Il Sung and his many children that is on display in North Korea. Cameras were not permitted in this area but the artist was able to get a shot of this image and include it in her Half Moon Eyes piece that documents her trip to North Korea in 2004.
  • Part of Half Moon Eyes

    A screen shot of Half Moon Eyes Media piece that is about North Korean women.
  • Gallery View: Half Moon Eyes, 2004, at Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, Maryland USA 2004-2005

    Half Moon Eyes, Interactive Media Installation with Touchscreen Technology that showed documentation of Cheon's travel to North Korea in 2004. Exhibited simultaneously in the United States and South Korea at the Maryland Art Place, Baltimore and Insa Art Space, Art Council, Seoul, Korea between November 2004 to January 2005. This gallery view is that of Maryland Art Place for the Grace Hartigan's "Athena's Daughters" exhibition.
  • Gallery View: Half Moon Eyes, 2005, Interactive Media Installation with Touchscreen Technology, at Insa Art Space of Arts Council, Seoul, Korea

    This gallery view shows audience interacting with the work in Korea. Half Moon Eyes, Interactive Media Installation with Touchscreen Technology that showed documentation of Cheon's travel to North Korea in 2004. Exhibited simultaneously in the United States and South Korea at the Maryland Art Place, Baltimore and Insa Art Space, Art Council, Seoul, Korea between November 2004 to January 2005. This gallery view is that of the solo exhibition Dizz/placement at Insa Art Space, Seoul.
  • Groundless and Desiring Infinity

    The exhibition title “Dizz/placement” connotes the dizziness produced by the displaced sensation of the space experienced by the audience. While the artwork Half Moon Eyes creates a sense of psychological displacement through its political content and the despair between the South and North Korean relationship, other works such as Groundless and Desiring Infinity, which are interactive string and media installations, create actual physical displacement through the disorientated spatial experience.
  • Groundless and Desiring Infinity

    The exhibition title “Dizz/placement” connotes the dizziness produced by the displaced sensation of the space experienced by the audience. While the artwork Half Moon Eyes creates a sense of psychological displacement through its political content and the despair between the South and North Korean relationship, other works such as Groundless and Desiring Infinity, which are interactive string and media installations, create actual physical displacement through the disorientated spatial experience.
  • Groundless and Desiring Infinity

    The exhibition title “Dizz/placement” connotes the dizziness produced by the displaced sensation of the space experienced by the audience. While the artwork Half Moon Eyes creates a sense of psychological displacement through its political content and the despair between the South and North Korean relationship, other works such as Groundless and Desiring Infinity, which are interactive string and media installations, create actual physical displacement through the disorientated spatial experience.

Mina's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.