Joiri Minaya, Continuum II, 2021, Archival print on Hahnemuhle FineArt Pearl paper, 11 x 14 inches.
This series of collages mixes imagery that depict women and nature in the Caribbean and other tropical spaces, like Google search results, Caribbean postcards and touristic brochures, ethnographic photography, art history paintings and other sources. I’m interested in the gestures and performativity of the women depicted, how the images present the subject as “available,” and by extension, the Caribbean landscape, and how these characteristics extend throughout the different visual traditions I pull from in spite of the diverse mediums, formats, location and temporalities they come from. While the collages point to the circularity of the Gaze that produces these images, they also meditate on inhabiting pre-imagined roles as a way to sabotage them.
The background image in Continuum I was taken by Roland Bonaparte, who photographed a number of people brought to Europe and the US to be studied by anthropologists and be exhibited in zoological gardens as specimens in reconstructed native villages during the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris. The fragments of the image on top of it is an image that came up in the results of the Google search for “Dominican women”. I was interested in the continuity of the pose, and the action of posing for somebody in this manner, which is somewhat unnatural and performative, trying to map this performativity through a visual genealogy of sorts. I’m also interested in how both images are framed by nature, which in both cases is artificially constructed, meaning, the plants are real but the space is constructed and maintained to emulate certain ideas of tropicality and exoticism. “The photograph validates the existence of a type, even if that type is entirely constructed by the photographer.” —Deborah Willis and Carla Williams, “The Black Female Body in Photographs from World’s Fairs and Expositions”, published in Exposure, Volume 33½.
Joiri Minaya, Postcard Composition 1 and 2, 2020, Archival pigment print on Hahnemuhle FineArt Pearl paper, 11 x 17 inches