Mori Anderson Hitchcock draws from their vast range of experiences when seeking influences for the artwork: their history as Black, queer, and nonbinary is instrumental, as well as the knowledge they’ve acquired from their research into art that results from conflicts and social movements in the United States, Rwanda, South Africa and Jamaica. Their early collages explored themes of Blackness, femininity, movement (as resistance), historicity, spirituality, queerness, identity, and sens/sexuality, but it wasn’t until Hitchcock began to realize art’s ability to create a platform for critical engagement that their work became more overtly political. The consequences of the recent pandemic have made them observe more urgently a world that polices, specifically, Black, queer and trans intimacy. Their collage work, You Are Nothing, is a witness to the joy and beauty of queer intimacy, in spite of the hyperintensive surveillance which often accompanies it.
“This piece was born from my own musings on these topics and conversations that I’ve had with other queer friends who were also forced to move home during the pandemic; often feeling surveilled or restricted in these spaces and seeking this kind of intimacy in order to feel validated, affirmed, remembered, or seen. I want my community to know that Black Queer collage art exists and that the medium can capture all that we are.”
To create a work of uplifting affirmation despite all obstacles, Hitchcock placed an intimate couple from a photograph by Clifford Prince King, a Black, queer photographer who explores queer intimacy and voyuerism in his work, directly into the gaze of a couple dozen white men who become a governing body debating on the act of intimacy before them. They framed this trial with words from the poet Sappho, challenging the audience, both within the piece and outside of it looking in, to question what right they have to pass judgment on this couple and their private, joyous intimacy.