Joiri Minaya

"The foundation of my art practice is a daily process of finding intimacy in all things large and small. My work is primarily conceptual, with the idea dictating the final product. Context becomes a crucial factor—whether it is a specific neighborhood or the architecture of a building—the work is contingent upon this. Many themes arise from the neighborhood where I live, from which ideas are culled from everyday experiences and banal activities. Often, I use my body in photographs and video, as a politicized agent in the work, as a vehicle for communicating ideas for a larger conversation."

Container #5
2020
Archival pigment print
40 x 60 in.

"In Container #5, the palm leaf, 'jungly' pattern harmonizes with the foliage in the background. This image was taken in one of the least manicured areas of the Botanical Garden of Santo Domingo, evoking a wild setting, although you can still see a bit of the concrete floor where the subject is standing coming through the leaves. The light in the photo, natural sunlight that seems like controlled studio lights, dramatically emphasizes the contrast of construction and nature. With hands sewn to the thighs, this bodysuit forces the wearer to be in this awkward position, kind of standing, but not fully. Yet, the subject looks down upon us, a gaze that is emphasized further in the gallery installation by hanging the photo higher than the rest of the works." 

Container #7
2020
Archival pigment print
40 x 60 in.

"This series' latest photo, Container #7 continues my interest in the relationship between the posing gendered body, the framed, constructed landscape and the commodification of nature, essentialized into commercial pattern design. This is the first time I incorporate a photo background (found on site) further pushing this dialogue. The picture was taken at the greenhouses at the New York Botanical Garden, a contentious site to me because of what it represents: echoes of colonial botanical gardens that were once human zoos where black and indigenous women were photographed in dehumanizing ways; nuanced decolonial ethnobotanical research interested in the knowledge of black and indigenous women; preservation of said knowledge while also denying access of that knowledge to the immediate community in its surroundings with prohibitive entry fees; a place of solace where I can recognize plants I grew up with; a dislocation of said plants reminding of my own dislocation."

Container #6
2020
Archival pigment print
40 x 60 in.

"In this image, the subject lies on her side at a beach while waves break in splashes behind her. Her right hand is her only independent limb, supporting the weight of her reclining posture while her other hand, along with both legs, are inside a sort of sac, enveloping most of her body into a siren shape. Like Body of Water, this bodysuit features a more abstracted pattern than the rest used in other works, reminiscent of some kind of water-animal print, which along with the shape of the bodysuit perhaps makes the figure more creature-esque than the rest of the Containers. However, this is the only bodysuit where the mouth of the subject can be seen, softly smiling, which in turn also humanizes the subject more than the others. This photo was taken in one of the several Dominican beaches that have been through a “beach regeneration” process, where sand is added to the beach to replace sand lost due to erosion or as a side effect of growing unregulated tourism infrastructure."
 


This interview has been edited, read the full interview here.


Interviews were conducted by Chenée Daley; a Jamaican-born, New York-based multi-genre writer, whose work encompasses poetry, prose, and song. Grounded in the tender narratives of personal histories where place and memory connect, her work has won the first place writing prize from the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Small Axe writing prize, the Denis Diderot [A-I-R] fellowship from Chateau Orquevaux in Ardenne, France and was recently shortlisted for the Eddie Baugh poet laureate of Jamaica prize. Her work appears in The Wall Street Journal, The Jamaica Observer, Small Axe Journal, The Cordite Review, American Chordata, and BOMB magazine. She has an MFA in writing from Columbia University.

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