THE SAYING, “MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO” HAS BEEN USED IN US AMERICAN CULTURE SINCE THE 1920S. IT IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN BORROWED FROM FOLKLORIC STORIES IN THE AFRICAN COUNTRIES OF MALI, EGYPT AND THE SUDAN. THESE STORIES HIGHLIGHTED THE COMICAL, MIMICKING BEHAVIORS OF MONKEYS, CHIMPANZEES AND OTHER PRIMATES THAT WOULD OFTEN GET THEM INTO TROUBLE AND MISCHIEF.
Ricardo Muñiz is an educator, therapist and legal advocate. Now, he does his activism and social commentary via his photography, puppetry and body art through magazine editorials, art installations, gallery exhibitions, print publications and video projects. Based in the multi-racial city New York he has taken it as his mission to be an ambassador for the young Latino population. Ricardo does his art for creative and activist reasons: a percentage of the proceeds are donated to charities that support young people of color trying to further their education. He also curate art exhibits as a way to raise monies for charities that support LGBT youth. And not without result.
Ricardo Muñiz is not a prolific photographer, but when he does shoot, it is so that it can be published or exhibited somewhere for a specific reason. He also takes a lot of time to set up the shots (he works more like a sculptor and puppeteer). The process is just as important as the final product, so he spends a lot of time talking with, meeting with and hanging out with the models, so that a sense of who they are comes out in the actual work. He believes the models have something to say and their voices should be heard, so his art is more of a collaborative process than him just directing subjects.
In its simplest definition, “monkey see, monkey do” refers to the type of copycat behavior all primates, including humans, exhibit—usually without a full understanding or grasp of why. We see someone else do something, and we want to do it, too. Fads are a modern example of this type of behavior and thinking. Artist-Educator Ricardo Muñiz has been telling stories through his art and his work for many years. For BeautifulMag today, after a long absence, Ricardo returns to tell his own sexy version of this idiomatic phrase. Ricardo rummaged through his old photographs and discovered many shots that were just a little too racy to run in the original stories. However, in these old photos, he saw promise and play and a couple of other things, too. Thus was born this punny story: “MONKEY SEE: I Can See Your Chimp and Zees.” We hope you enjoy these monkeys with their bananas and coconuts as much as we do. –BM-
Models: Giorgio, James, Jason, Jimmy, Kendall, Nahuel, Nicholas, Rick, Ryan, Will
Fashion by: Adrian Alicea, aussieBum, Calvin Klein, Gap, Hanes, Nico & Adrian, Portfolio by Perry Ellis, Wu Hao.
RICARDO MUÑIZ | BEAUTIFULMAG