NEW YORK, NY.-
The Asia Society Triennial has launched a new digital initiative: Eat Chocopie Together, presented in collaboration with Korean artist Mina Cheon as a response to the physically distant conditions of the pandemic by inviting anyone, anywhere to extend love and peace by sharing virtual Chocopies with friends and loved ones. The project premiered on Korean Liberation Day, on August 15the only national holiday celebrated in both North and South Korea, commemorating the end of the decades long Japanese occupation of Korea. Eat Chocopie Together is accessed at the website www.EatChocopieTogether.com
Chocopies, a South Korean chocolate-covered, marshmallow-filled snack cake, became one of the most desirable consumer products in North Korea after South Korean workers gifted them to their North Korean peers at the jointly managed Kaesong Industrial Complex, prior to its closure in 2013. In 2014, this treat was reportedly banned in North Korea. Since then, Chocopies have been making it across the border in creative ways; South Korean activists have even used helium balloons to launch thousands of Chocopies over the DMZ border into North Korea, some with messages of love and care.
Eat Chocopie Together is based on Mina Cheons original artwork, an installation of thousands of stacked Chocopies which viewers are invited to eat. This communal experience was meant to bring awareness of the two Koreas working towards peace and unification. When Cheon last showed her Chocopie installation at the 2018 Busan Biennale in Korea, it became a national sensation with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook participating amidst Korean media buzz and under the slogan A New Future for Korea.
Eat Chocopie Together is how art promotes peace and healing, said artist Mina Cheon. As the Chocopie has become the cultural symbol of inter-Korean unification efforts, from the Koreas to the world, I hope that every bite taken is one towards global peace, love, and kindness.
, visitors can choose to share with friends five unique Chocopie designs, specially created by the artist to represent important aspects of the initiative: LOVE, PEACE, SHARE, EAT, UNITE. In addition to the joy produced by sharing a delicious virtual snack, the project has a charitable component. Each Chocopie automatically generates a donation of $2 in the names of the two participants to the Korean American Community Foundation COVID-19 Action Fund, up to a total gift of $5,000. The Fund supports non-profit partner organizations working at the front line of the pandemic providing essential services to the most vulnerable Korean Americans.
With increasing uncertainties facing community-based installations such as Eat Chocopie Together, it was crucial to look to digital variations, so the public and our members alike may still enjoy the art of the Triennial. As a bonus, this was a felicitous initiative to have real social impact, a testament to the role of art during these trying times, said Ken Tan, Executive Director of Global Artistic Programs and Deputy Director of Asia Society Museum.
Mina Cheon will be featured in Part 2 of the Triennial (March 16, 2021June 27, 2021) with new artworks installed at the Asia Society Museum, as well as an installation of the physical Eat Chocopie Together.
Mina Cheon is a global Korean new media artist, scholar, and educator who divides her time between Korea and the United States. Cheon has exhibited her political pop art known as Polipop internationally and draws inspiration from global media and popular culture to produce work that intersects politics and pop art in evocative ways. While she creates work that ranges in medium, its content is in historic alignment to appropriation art and global activism.
Cheons thematic focus includes geopolitical and contested spaces, race culture and postcolonialism, and Asias relationship to the western world in global media culture and reflects the transgenerational trauma of Koreas history, its division and war, and Japanese colonization. Having parents originate from the North and herself part of the Korean global diaspora, Cheons art results from a lifetime of working with a cultural comparative lens and understanding Asia through its power relations with the world. In particular, she has worked on North Korean awareness, Korean unification and reconciliation efforts, and global peace projects since 2004.
As an artist, while assuming different artistic pseudonyms for the past twenty years such as Minaliza1000, M-1000, Jae Son, Cheons latest avatar and alter ego is a North Korean artist named KIM IL SOON who made her first international public appearance at the Pulse Art Fair NY in 2013.
Cheon states, "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 countrys state of being divided. It makes all the sense in the world that if a country is split so should the artist in practice."