Dennis Morris at Shift Gallery (688 Richmond West), presented by Wedge, to May 30. Lecture Monday (May 10), 7 pm, Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas West, off McCaul). $12, stu/srs $10. 416-576-5562. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Dennis Morris, whether he's talking to me or to other interviewers, always says something like "Everyone looks, but only a few actually see." He first made a name for himself at the age of 14 as the photographer of Bob Marley's 1975 UK tour. Two years later he went on to become the Sex Pistols' official photographer, and has worked with many of the music industry's biggest names since.
Growing Up Black is a rare look at the West Indian community in London's East End between 1968 and 76 - the earliest shots were taken when Morris was only 11.
The keen-eyed teen was able to capture people acting naturally because to them he was just some kid with a camera.
But he was obviously a very talented kid. Each photograph bears both an intimate sense of the character of his subjects and the context in which they were living.
In The Brothers At The Black House, for instance, three men are in a room, the youngest sitting on the floor. All are smartly dressed. As two of them levelly return the gaze of the camera and the third patiently stares at the floor, you have to wonder what they were in the middle of when young Morris traipsed in.
These compelling photos reveal Morris's ability to "actually see."
You can see him for yourself when he lectures Monday at Jackman Hall.