Mina Cheon

b. 1973 in Seoul, Korea
Working in Baltimore, MD, and New York, NY, United States of America; and Seoul, Korea
Showing at Asia Society Museum
On view from March 26, 2021, through June 27, 2021
The artist appears with in a white top, her hands clasped together. She wears a digital flower crown and the text "I Love You" appears in pink letters against a yellow spiked background. Korean subtitles appear at the bottom of the image

Mina Cheon, Lesson 1 What is Art, What is Life? Part 1 (To be an Artist), 2017. Art History Lesson videos sent to North Korea. Courtesy of the artist and Ethan Cohen Gallery. Image courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio

Location: Asia Society Museum
The artist appears in a white top with a digital flower crown, holding a box of Chocopies. She is against a background of hundreds of Chocopies. Above her, text appears that reads "Kim Il Soon, Eat ChocoPie Together, 2014, ChocoPie"

Mina Cheon, Lesson 2 What is Art, What is Life? Part 2 (Art and Food), 2017. Art History Lesson videos sent to North Korea. Courtesy of the artist and Ethan Cohen Gallery. Image courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio

Location: Asia Society Museum
The artist appears in a white top with digital leopard ears, nose, and whiskers. She is against a background of a spiral of one hundred dollar bills. Korean subtitles appear at the bottom of the image.

Mina Cheon, Lesson 3 Art, Money, Power, 2017. Art History Lesson videos sent to North Korea. Courtesy of the artist and Ethan Cohen Gallery. Image courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio

Location: Asia Society Museum
The artist appears in a white top with digital bunny ears and nose. The text "Dreams & Abstract Art" appears above her in purple script. She is against a background of abstracted purple, peach, and pink brushstrokes. Korean subtitles appear at the bottom of the screen.

Mina Cheon, Lesson 4 Abstract Art and Dreams, 2017. Art History Lesson videos sent to North Korea. Courtesy of the artist and Ethan Cohen Gallery. Image courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio

Location: Asia Society Museum
Mina Cheon Lesson 5

Mina Cheon, Lesson 5 Feminism, Are We Equal?, 2017. Art History Lesson videos sent to North Korea. Courtesy of the artist and Ethan Cohen Gallery. Image courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio

Location: Asia Society Museum
The artist appears in a white top and digital black and white lined, rounded ears. She is in front of a blue background that features hands at a computer whose screen shows a dense grid of 0s and 1s.

Mina Cheon, Lesson 7 Remix and Appropriation Art, 2017. Art History Lesson videos sent to North Korea. Courtesy of the artist and Ethan Cohen Gallery. Image courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio

Location: Asia Society Museum
The artist appears in a white top with digital cat ears and glasses. Behind her is an image of the artist Nam June Paik, who sits in front of a grid of dozens of televisions, whose screens are different colors. Korean subtitles appear at the bottom of the image.

Mina Cheon, Lesson 8 Art and Technology, 2017. Art History Lesson videos sent to North Korea. Courtesy of the artist and Ethan Cohen Gallery. Image courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio

Location: Asia Society Museum
The artist appears in a white top and a digital flower crown. Five emojis of a yellow thumbs up appear above her. She is against a light copper background depicting a heart and shiny confetti.

Mina Cheon, Lesson 10 Art and Environment, 2017. Art History Lesson videos sent to North Korea. Courtesy of the artist and Ethan Cohen Gallery. Image courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio

Location: Asia Society Museum
A black-and-white reproduction of Da Vinci's The Last Supper, which depicts Jesus centered at the center of a table surrounded by the twelve apostles.

Anonymous North Korean painters, The Last Supper, 2019. Oil on canvas. H.43 x W. 86 1/2 in. (109.2 x 219.7 cm). Courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio. Photograph courtesy of the artist

Location: Asia Society Museum
A diptych that depicting Korea twice in white, spotted paint against a blue background. The characters "우리" appear in black in the center and some gold strokes appear at the bottom left.

Mina Cheon (aka Kim Il Soon), Dreaming Unification: Oori (우리) Protest for Peace, 2019–20. IKB paint, stencil, spray paint, sumi ink on canvas. Diptych, each panel: H. 60 x W. 40 in. (152.4 x 101.6 cm). Courtesy of Mina Cheon Studio. Photograph by Cyrus Feldman

Location: Asia Society Museum

Mina Cheon is a new media artist and activist best known for her “Polipop” paintings inspired by Pop art and Social Realism. Cheon’s practice draws inspiration from the partition of the Korean peninsula, exemplified by her parallel body of work created under her North Korean alter ego, Kim Il Soon, in which she enlists a range of mediums including painting, sculpture, video, installation, and performance to deconstruct and reconcile the fraught history and ongoing coexistence between North and South Korea. The artist received a BFA in painting from Ewha Womans University, Seoul, in 1996; an MFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1999; an MFA in imaging and digital art from the Honors College at University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2002; and a PhD in philosophy of media and communications at the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland, in 2008.


Art History Lessons by Professor Kim features a series of eight art-history lessons, created for a North Korean audience, featuring Cheon’s alter ego Kim Il Soon as Professor Kim. These relatable video vignettes ruminate on such topics as abstraction, feminism, Pop art, and social justice and are presented on portable Notel media players that are accessible to North Korean citizens. The video “lessons” were sent into North Korea on USB drives and SD cards through the assistance of North Korean defector organizations as a means to promote greater dialogue and understanding with the outside world. Accompanying the videos in the Triennial is a diptych from Cheon’s Dreaming Unification series, also painted under the pseudonym Kim Il Soon, along with a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, painted by a group of anonymous North Korean painters. The latter is part of Cheon’s collection of paintings by North Korean artists, and her presentation of this work both illuminates the desire of North Korean artists to engage in dialogue with the western art canon and allows for yet another avenue of collaboration with her unknown counterparts. The dialogue created between Cheon and her North Korean counterparts creates a symbolic bridge of reconciliation and understanding between North and South Korea. 

Click here to read more about Art History Lessons by Professor Kim, including a list of contents.

Supported by Korea Foundation.

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