Q&A with Resident Artist Gina Goico
If Gina Goico had a mission statement, it would be this: “You will never have a cohesive narrative of Dominicanness.”
That bold answer to the question of identity and sense of place is woven into the 28-year-old artist’s work like the pelliza performances she’s done while staying in Detroit. Goico works on the traditional Dominican rag rugs in public, creating a sense of community around an active art installation that lives well beyond the performance itself through audio and written observation.
“How can I code the conversations by picking specific colors and positioning people around this object?” asks Goico, a Dominican-born artist currently living in New York City. “I still don’t know how it will look. It’ll take me three days of just going out there, having the performance and seeing what happens.”
Another part of her upcoming Red Bull House of Art exhibition will focus on collages — photographs, paint, drawings — that are expressive responses to how media organizations in the Dominican Republic report on violent crime against a starkly juxtaposed background of coastal resorts, sandy beaches, and ocean.
With the Dominican Republic dealing with an epidemic of gender-based violence, Goico says it’s inevitable that it would inform her work in some way.
“I’ve been investigating how the news reports — the images they use, the language they use,” says Goico, “and I’m exploring that with that body of work.”
Yet another will see Goico embroidered assorted pieces of fabric and women’s panties with Dominican slang and images that she says are associated with being Dominican like “rum, palm trees, oceans, butts.”
“I’m tying back to feminism, which is really embedded in my work,” says Goico.
For this Red Bull House of Art exhibition, you’re pairing big concepts with equally-sized artistic undertakings. That has to be liberating as an artist.
It’s perfect because the three of us [Lucia Hierro, Joiri Minaya] have this whole thing about identity and Domincanness — especially me and Joiri. We talk a lot about womanhood and what it means to be a woman back in the Dominican Republic. I do play a little bit with the exotic factor with me being read as this racially ambiguous person. I like to play with that but also take that into a little bit of a political stance.
With your creative process, it seems like you’re very comfortable moving through mediums. What attracts you to not being just a painter or just doing performance?
I let the idea guide me towards what the medium will be. I love painting — I was traditionally trained so drawing and painting I love, but I do know what historically what paintings are and how if I want to do something political or goes to the masses, I know maybe the painting is not the most accessible medium. I’m pushing myself actually to do things as actual paintings because I want to paint instead of a performance because I need to paint. I want to explore that nostalgia and tradition.
Because you are communicating something that is both political and personal, what do you hope the audience walks away with when they see this work? Does presenting the work still put you in a vulnerable place as an artist?
I do have a layer of safety because I use Spanish more than anything. I do know that, specifically with an American audience, not everyone will have the knowledge to read Dominican slang. But I know the moment I’m done making a piece, I don’t have control over it. This is not an advertisement. Even though I have an intention and I try to make it seem like it comes from personal experience and the personal is political and of course, I’m drawing a parallel with what’s happening … if people just see it and think it’s pretty, I’m fine with it. What I’ve gotten with Latino or Caribbean audiences is that they can connect and they are like, “Oh, I can see what you’re doing” and they do go into a deeper aspect of it or some don’t. I’m willing to take whatever the audience takes. It’s awesome to also see other aspects — of course, there are symbols people carry with them and how they can connect to it and that is amazing.
By Ryan Patrick Hooper.
The Resident Artist Exhibition opens Friday, April 6th, 7-10 pm.