Solo exhibition at C.Grimalids Gallery (February 28 - March 29, 2008)
Accompanied by an essay written by Brian Willems, critic and professor of literature at the University of Split, Croatia.
The C.Grimaldis Gallery is pleased to present Addressing Dolls by Korean-American artist Mina Cheon, whose solo 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 Korea’s establishment, which is September 9.
Accompanying this work is 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 year, with the 2008 US Presidential elections coming up, Cheon plans on visiting Paikdusan, a newly opened mountain in North Korea, in order to work on a sequel to “Half Moon Eyes.”
Mina Cheon is a Korean-American artist who lives between Baltimore, New York, and Seoul, Korea. Currently, she is a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and has exhibited her artwork nationally and internationally with invitational solo exhibitions at the Insa Art Space, Arts Council, Seoul, Korea in 2005 and the Lance Fung Gallery, New York in 2002. She has also shown her work in other various venues in Baltimore, Korea, and Taiwan. Her video works are collected and archived by EVR (e-flux video rental) which screens video work all over the world. With a BFA from Ewha Womans University of Seoul, Korea; an MFA from MICA and another MFA in digital arts from UMBC; she is also a PhD candidate in philosophy of media and communications at EGS, Switzerland.
C.Grimaldis Gallery 523 N. Charles Street Baltimore Maryland 21224 T 410.539.1080 F 410.539.2229 www.cgrimaldisgallery.com
Photo Credit for Addressing Dolls 2008: Eric Salsbery