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ESSAY / FINDING THE SWEET SPOT: A BLACK BOY'S BIG BASEBALL DREAMS BY KAMILA HINKSON

Jalani Morgan,9 Bats, 2019

Jalani Morgan,9 Bats, 2019

Jalani Morgan,9 Bats, 2019

Jalani Morgan,9 Bats, 2019

Jalani Morgan
9 Bats

September 24 - November 30, 2019

Curated by Ann MacDonald

Opening reception
Tuesday, September 24
5 - 8:30 pm
Exhibition tour with artist and curator at 7 pm
Free shuttle bus departs OCAD U (100 McCaul St) at 5:30 pm, to return at 8:30 pm

Jalani Morgan describes baseball as his first love, and 9 Bats as his love letter. 9 Bats is the first inning of what will be a nine-inning body of work. Morgan’s past projects, including the Black Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame engage the process of not only remembering, or memorializing Canadian Black baseball greats of the 1930s and 40s, but of actively unforgetting a history that has barely been recorded. His intent in documenting and filling in gaps by ficto-historicizing is to provide content and representation for Black communities, that they might better see themselves engaging fully with the world. With 9 Bats, Morgan collaborated with his five-year old nephew Cordell, to embody the character of Devon C. Jones, a young player destined for greatness.

The large-scale installation and photographs in 9 Bats are set at Scarborough Village Park, Morgan’s childhood baseball diamond, with its characteristic suburban skyline and apartments in the background, alluding to time, place, and the many stories unfolding in the surrounding neighbourhood. Young Devon has been gifted a bat that contains magical properties. Representing past, present, and future, Jones owns the field with the bestowed bat, and his natural ability. Through his lens, Morgan has captured moments of strategy, prowess, reflection, and creativity, achieved through motor and sensory impulses, and the assurance of being seen.

An interactive installation in the form of a batting cage invites visitors to experience the power of the altered state of play, and the resonance of a ball perfectly addressed, and piercing the imagined sky.

Playful, yet inherently political, 9 Bats demonstrates Morgan’s photographic acumen as he touches upon the auto-biographical and fantastical to both represent, and continue to build a world where kids like Devon/Cordell engage at the centre, and not on the margins.

PROGRAMMING

See our PROGRAMS & EVENTS PAGE for additional programming information.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Jalani Morgan is an established Toronto based photographer, visual historian, and current photo editor of West End Phoenix. Morgan is known for his editorial, documentary, and gallery work both nationally and internationally. Morgan’s creative work explores visual representation within a Black Canadian context and focuses on documenting and portraying images of Black life both in Canada and internationally. As a commissioned photographer, Jalani covers the spectrum of portraiture and current events documenting the architectural, racial, musical, and cultural landscapes of Toronto.