Mina Cheon's Motherly Love for North Korea
2018, PRESS PRESS X BMORE ART | Role: Writer
In Mina Cheon’s solo exhibition UMMA : MASS GAMES – Motherly Love North Korea at Ethan Cohen Gallery curated by Nadim Samman, Cheon collaborates with North Korean defectors in sending care packages to family members and friends living in North Korea containing food, first aid, and USB drives with video art history lessons in global contemporary art created by the artist.
Her new body of work reveals itself in different forms to different audiences; the primary audience being those receiving her videos in North Korea as well as the dissidents in South Korea who share amongst themselves, the secondary being the audience attending the gallery exhibition, and the third being the extended stage of the digital media world.
At the gallery, Cheon complicates and expands a representation of North Korea by centering the figure of Umma (mommy in Korean), described by the artist as a shaman, superhero, and unidentified mother figure. As Cheon states, “[Umma] is an alternative power; something other than the failures of the current father figure power structures and leaders.” Responding specifically to a political context in both the subject matter and form, Umma’s care is directionless; it emerges from within and towards the people she cares for. Read on.