Mina Cheon . art . text . teach . review . cv

Image Caption (top to bottom):

Insa Art Space -- Gallery 1:
“Half Moon Eyes,” interactive multi-media installation with touchscreen technology
“Mother Universe,” “Pixelated Humanism,” and “DotoDot,” video single channels
“99 Miss Kim (s),” 99 North Korean female military dolls, object installation

Insa Art Space -- Gallery 2:
“Groundless” & “Desiring Infinity,” multi-media string installation


Press Release
Insa Art Space Exhibition

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

EXHIBITION TITLE: “Dizz/placement”

EXHIBITION DATES: Wednesday, 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.