Features

Queer Artists in Their Own Words: Damien Davis Likes Science Fiction and Decoding Black Symbolism

LGBTQ Pride Month is now. Every day in June, we are celebrating the community by featuring one queer artist and letting them speak for themselves.

The month of June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community and reflect on the advances of queer people to strengthen civil liberties around the world, even in a moment of great political uncertainty. It’s also a good opportunity to spotlight the richness and diversity of culture we have within the community. Hyperallergic is commemorating Pride Month by featuring one contemporary queer artist per day on the website and letting them speak for themselves. Click here to participate.

Damien Davis, “Force of Will (Blackamoors Collage #228)” (image courtesy the artist, photo by John Carlano)

Damien Davis

Age: 34

Location: Brooklyn

Artistic Medium: New Media and Performance

Who are you and what do you do?

My practice attempts to unpack the visual language of historical representations, focused primarily on people, places, and things marked as “black.” My work examines cultures, questioning how societies code and decode representations of race through craft, design and digital modes of production. Made of glyphic shapes, patterns, and images, the works create ever-shifting relationships and meanings, helping to broker new associations and conversations.

For the last fourteen years I have been focused on an in-depth and evolving investigation of the formal and political significance of lines and vectors, both in an American and global context. I am interested in how lines can be used (both aesthetically and conceptually) to divide and connect ideas, while also having the potential to encircle and diagram even broader ones. The vector objects I make using various software can be stored and later modified into infinite permutations, facilitating my investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ideas. My work looks at the past while using futurist modes of production; queering, replicating and juxtaposing what I research into new lexicographical forms.

What are the top three greatest influences on your work?

Aaron Douglas, my mother, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Describe your coffee order.

Black with lots of sugar.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Living.

What constitutes a perfect day?

Any day I can sleep in and binge on science fiction.

What was your favorite exhibition from last year?

Derrick Adams: Sanctuary at the Museum of Arts and Design

What would your superpower be if you had one?

Teleportation.

Tell us a lie about yourself.

I hate science fiction!

What is one question you wish somebody would ask about your work?

What black/queer artist are you influenced by?

What is the greatest threat to humanity?

Thirst traps.

What did you make when you first started making art?

My mother loves to tell this story about how I used a bunch of building blocks to make a family of cats in a hospital waiting room when I was about 4 years old.

Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?

I prefer to be a man that can do both.

What is your all-time favorite work of art?

“Untitled” (1989) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

What are your plans for pride month?

Squeeze in as much fun as possible between work! I’m gearing up for a solo show at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling next month, after having the honor of being their artist-in-residence this year.

What is the future of queerness?

Remembering, preserving, and celebrating queer history.

Back in my day…

Community couldn’t be found on an app. Find your tribe and celebrate them as much as possible.

Name one guilty pleasure.

Survivor.

Greatest queer icon of the internet: Babadook, Momo, or a pervading sense of existential angst?

A pervading sense of existential angst.

Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?

Never enough anywhere.

How do you stay cool during the summer?

Black linen and baggy pants.

What is your favorite type of milk?

Strawberry milk!

“Queer Artists in Their Own Words” is an ongoing feature happening every day in the month of June. For prior posts in the series, please click here.

comments (0)