In the video collages of Devin Morris, marionettes prance around in a constructed house party to Jersey House and Baltimore Club remixes of the 90s most memorable hits. In one scene, an uptempo version of TLC’s "No Scrubs” blares through a cutout of a boombox as a black queer male figure dances along in a see-through tutu that exposes his naked body. The figure pulses to the beat. The moment affirms the playful ways that Morris, through collage, manipulates memory to explore freshly the aesthetic intersections of inner city life, race, and fashion.
“I make collage because I can use it to speak. Its always been a part of my way of being. It’s primarily work of people of color in spaces that are dreamlike,” explains Morris to The Creators Project. “The collages are like a dream of a collective experience I want to remember and of things I imagine for the future.”
“Every one of my figures is dressed to communicate a lifestyle. I sometimes dress different figures in the same pant or shirt because it’s a way of thinking about fashion as a culture and the feeling that fashion creates.”
In his most recent video work, I’m Alive, Morris creates surreal surroundings out of red bricks and a makeshift sky that follows a male figure dressed in a skirt as he constructs a building. “There’s a longing in my work that’s like a wish that questions my circumstances,” explains Morris, who grew up in Baltimore’s inner city in the 90s. The video, for Morris, is a comment on the things he saw in a community that yearned for socioeconomic improvements but also communicated through personal aesthetics. The blending of fashion and identity can also be found in the The Wall 1. Morris constructs a burning Detroit with black figures—the most prominent of whom wears Armani underwear—running through the streets evoking the unrest of the 60s. Conversely, in City Planning, a female figure dressed in varying outfits repetitively populates a multicolored city.
“What I hope my work comments on is the black experience in America,” says Morris, who also explores these themes in a zine he publishes, 3 Dot Zine, that pairs essays and collage together. “The themes of dreaming and longing found in the work relates back to losing family members or the community wanting better employment opportunities.” He adds, “my work questions what is blackness within these environments and where can blackness be seen in the future. It’s a very optimistic work that reads where we have been and where we can go.”
For more information on Devin Morris’s work, click here.