John Sims’s audio-visual-poetic presentation subversively confronts the song “Dixie” (the anthem of the Confederacy). He remixes, remaps and cross-appropriates a collection of 14 tracks of the song performed in the style of the following Black-music genres: Spiritual, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Funk Calypso, Samba, Soul, R&B, House, and Hip-Hop The recordings feature local musicians from Sarasota, Florida, and surrounding areas. To critically engage this project with both historical and current social-political-cultural themes, the artist invited poets, artists, scholars, activists, and community members to respond to the music. This program is inspired by VMFA’s special exhibition, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse.
John Sims, multimedia artist and producer
John Sims, a Detroit native, Sarasota based conceptual/multimedia artist, writer, and activist who creates art and curatorial projects spanning the areas of installation, performance, text, music, film, and large-scale activism, informed by mathematics, design, the politics of white supremacy, sacred symbols/anniversaries, and poetic/political text. For 20 years he has been working on the forefront of contemporary mathematical art and leading the national pushback on Confederate iconography. Currently, he is Artist in Residency at the Ringling Museum, where he developed the performance piece 2020: (Di)Visions of America.
He is also completing his two decade national art-activism project, Recoloration Proclamation, which explores, re-examines and remixes Confederate iconography as it relates to the African American experience. The project features recolored Confederate flags; a hanging installation in Gettysburg; a 13 southern states Confederate flag funeral; videos; site-specific performances; a play; a collection of experimental films; the music project, “AfroDixieRemixes,” the annual “Burn and Bury Confederate Flag Memorial”; and the outside performance and Kennedy Museum exhibition of “The Proper Way to Hang to a Confederate Flag” at Ohio University. Over the years, this work has incorporated more than 150 collaborators including poets, musicians and artists throughout the country.
His work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC News, USA Today, NPR, The Guardian, ThinkProgress, Al Jazeera, Art in America, Sculpture, Science News, Nature and Scientific American. He has written for CNN, Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, Tampa Bay Times, Detroit Metro Times, Guernica Magazine, and The Rumpus and TheGrio.