Press Release

Artist John Sims brings AfroDixia: A Righteous Confiscation to Columbia, SC, as a part of a series of exhibitions across the South, marking the culmination of his 20-year long project, Recoloration Proclamation

Artist John Sims brings AfroDixia: A Righteous Confiscation to Columbia, SC, as a part of a series of exhibitions across the South, marking the culmination of his 20-year long project, Recoloration Proclamation
Image Credit: Installation Shot at 701 Center of Contemporary Art, Columbia, SC.
Courtesy of John Sims.
“There is a space of courage and voice, rooted in the land and struggles of descendants of American slavery who are in this historical moment, ready to confront and confiscate the elements, tools, language, symbols, flags, monuments, and the insidious mindset that have promoted, protected, and culturalized white supremacy as an axiom of justification for systems of multi-dimensional subjugation.” – JOHN SIMS
New York, NY – Artist, writer and activist John Sims will be featured in a series of four exhibitions and performances across four southern states: South Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Florida opening in the months of May and June, presenting elements of his 20-year project Recoloration Proclamation, a system of work that confronts the ideas and symbols of white supremacy and visual terrorism, Confederate iconography, propriety of Southern Heritage, and transformative ritual in the context of the African American experience.
His solo exhibition AfroDixia: A Righteous Confiscation is currently on view at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC. Select works and performance pieces will be featured in shows at the Houston Museum of African American Culture, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, and the Tampa Museum of Art.
Image Credit: Five Confederate Flags: A Group Hanging, 2021. Courtesy of John Sims.
The project’s genesis dates back to the late 90s, during which John Sims witnessed protests against the Confederate flag flying above South Carolina’s state capital. The artist was galvanized to reimagine the Confederate flag as a symbol of positive empowerment rather than oppression, inverting its traditional color scheme to black, red and green, the colors of black liberation.
This led to Sims’ Recoloration Proclamation, a diverse series of interdisciplinary work: re-colored Confederate flags, hanging installations, flag funeral performances, a series of AfroDixie Remixes, a dramatic play, and an experimental film. The select works have been exhibited, performed, and screened across the United States in New York City, Detroit, San Francisco, and even at KKK rallies.
In 2004, Sims was invited to Gettysburg, PA to present the full project along with one new piece, The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag, an installation featuring a rebel flag hung from a 13 foot gallows. Due to a massive protest, the outdoor installation was suppressed and the artist consequently boycotted his own exhibition.
In 2015, for the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, and inspired by the uprisings in Baltimore, Sims organized 13 Confederate Flag Funerals on Memorial Day. The funerals featured poets, artists and community activists from each of the 13 former Confederate states. About three weeks later, nine people were killed in a church in Charleston, South Carolina by a racist Dylann Roof. In response, the artist organized a nationwide ceremonial burning of the Confederate Flag on July 4th, which was kicked off with a special performance at the state capitol in Columbia, SC. Eventually, this evolved to the annual Burn and Bury Memorial Day tradition.
Image Credit: Courtesy of John Sims.
Now John Sims returns to Columbia, South Carolina with his solo exhibition AfroDixia: A Righteous Confiscation and an artist residency at the prestigious 701 Center for Contemporary Art (701 CCA). The show is on view through June 25th and features all major elements of his 20 year project, including two new installations: “Five Flags: A Group Hanging” and “Five Urns for Five Flags”. His residency will include an AfroDixie listening session: an audio-visual-poetic confrontation of the song’s dark legacy as the Confederacy’s anthem, as well as a subversive re-working through remixing, remapping and cross-appropriating its music with an assortment black music genres: Spiritual, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Funk Calypso, Samba, Soul, R&B, House, and Hip Hop. Additionally, there will be a table reading of Sims’ dramatic play in development and a screening of his related film work.
Currently, “The AfroDixie Remixes” is installed as a sound piece at the Confederate Chapel at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art as a part of the exhibition Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture and Sonic Impulse, curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver. This exhibition runs from May 23 through September 6, 2021. As a part of the programming, the artist will present his AfroDixie Remixes listening session as a virtual presentation on July 30, 2021, featuring as respondents Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa Igloria and Chloe Edwards, president of BLM in Richmond among others poets, academics and community leaders.
In addition to the show in Columbia and in Richmond, Sims will be in residency at the Houston Museum of African American Culture, performing his annual Burn and Bury Confederate Flag annual event for Memorial Day, May 31, 2021 in response to and conversation with the museum’s newly acquired Confederate monument, Spirit of the Confederacy. On Juneteenth, June 19, he will present his another AfroDixie Remixes listening session featuring area respondents.
On June 3rd, Sims will present his installation “Restorative Resurrection” at the Tampa Museum of Art as part of Skyway 2021, an exhibition featuring 53 artists across four Tampa Bay area museums.
Image Credit: Courtesy of John Sims.
John Sims, a Detroit native, Sarasota based conceptual 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. He was 2020/21 Artist in Residency at the Ringling Museum, where he developed the performance piece 2020: (Di)Visions of America. He is currently Artist in Residency at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art.
His work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC News, USA Today, US News/World Report,NPR, The Guardian, ThinkProgress, Al Jazeera, Art in America, Sculpture, Hyperallergic, New Art Examiner, Science News, Nature and Scientific American. He has written for CNN, Al JazeeraTampa Bay TimesDetroit Free Press The Huffington Post, Guernica Magazine, and The Rumpus and TheGrio.