I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift
I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift
Joiri Minaya sees her work as a reassertion of self, in which she uses her cultural background as a base to explore and reconcile her experiences of growing up in the Dominican Republic and living and navigating the United States. I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift examines the construction of the female subject in relation to landscape, looking particularly at “tropical” environments. The exhibition features new works from her ongoing Containers series initiated in 2015, where Minaya takes photographs of women wearing custom head-to-toe printed bodysuits that mimic tropical flora and poses them in seemingly natural environments that have been altered by man. The original series stemmed from a Google search of “Dominican Women,” where Minaya found specific poses repeated throughout her findings and appropriated these poses through the structure of the bodysuits, forcing the performer to adopt the pose. By doing this, Minaya looks to the parallels drawn between nature and femininity, as both have been imagined and represented throughout history as idealized, tamed, conquered, and exoticized entities.
The title I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift aims to establish a relationship between the viewer and the work, drawing attention to the performative nature of her subjects and the audience’s position as an active observer. It is also a line pulled from one of the original scripts Minaya wrote when she started to experiment with the series beyond photography. She converted the images into a performance, incorporating voice recordings and written text that were strategically paired to the location and bodysuits. As the series continues to be reimagined through new mediums, this exhibition will be the first to present collage alongside her continued photographs, video, and text.
Joiri Minaya (1990) is a Dominican-United Statesian multi-disciplinary artist whose recent works focus on destabilizing historic and contemporary representations of an imagined tropical identity. Minaya attended the Escuela Nacional de Artes Visuales in Santo Domingo (2009), the Altos de Chavón School of Design (2011) and Parsons the New School for Design (2013). She has participated in residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Guttenberg Arts, Smack Mellon, the Bronx Museum’s AIM Program and the NYFA Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists, Red Bull House of Art, the Lower East Side Printshop and Art Omi. She has been awarded a Socrates Sculpture Park Emerging Artist Fellowship as well as grants by the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation and the Nancy Graves Foundation. Minaya’s work is in the collection of the Museo de Arte Moderno and the Centro León Jiménes in the Dominican Republic.
Corrine Y. Gordon is a curator and programmer who was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Currently based in Brooklyn, Gordon served as the co-curator of the inaugural Southeast Queens Biennial at York College and has organized exhibitions at Welancora Gallery, Rush Arts’ Corridor Gallery, and Bishop Gallery, all located in Brooklyn. Gordon is also the co-founder and Director of Art & Programming at MYÜZ Inc., a visual content label that pairs visual artists with distinguished academics to produce a catalogue of original content. Lastly, Gordon works in the Special Events department at the world-famous Apollo Theater. Gordon received a Masters of Arts in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art at the University of Virginia, with a minor in Media Studies.
In her exhibition “I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift,” artist Joiri Minaya continues her “Containers” series, which looks at the female subject in relation to tropical landscapes. Curated by Corrine Y. Gordon, the installation is on view at Camera Club of New York’s Baxter St venue through September 30. “I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift” moves beyond photography to include video, text, and for the first time, collage. The show has been named from a line in one of Minaya’s original scripts, written during the formative process for the exhibition, highlighting the audience’s role as an active viewer while the subjects take on the role of performer. – Whitewall Art
Your Concise New York Art Guide for September 2020: Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month. In her performances, installations, and films, Joiri Minaya often examines the gendered nature of fantasies mapped onto both her home country of the Dominican Republic and other tropical contexts. Her latest exhibition presents recent works from her Containers series, which both nods to and pushes back against the tendency to exoticize difference and femmes of color. – Hyperallergic
A special treat behind the glorious tangent was a short moving image that incorporates voice recordings and written text that were strategically paired to the location and bodysuits. “As the series continues to be reimagined through new mediums, this exhibition will be the first to present the collage alongside her continued photographs, video, and text.” – Womanly Magazine
Joiri Minaya Isn’t Here to Entertain Your Tropical Fantasies. “I’m here to entertain you, but only during my shift flirts with beauty, ecology, and the desire to be seen, without capitulating to the pull of exoticization.” – Alexandra M. Thomas, Hyperallergic
“I’m not the motherland. I’m not a landscape. I’m framing this conversation. I’m not a flower. I’m only here to work,” declares a woman whose monologue acts as the soundtrack to video documentation of performances from 2017 by artist Joiri Minaya. In these succinct phrases, the female narrator demarcates herself from landscape or nature, her speech layered over footage of women in tropical print bodysuits. The woman’s refusal of identities which connect the feminine to the landscape is emblematic of Minaya’s exploration of the female subject, in particular the construction of the tropical woman. – Rachel Remick, The Brooklyn Rail