Artist John Sims will be bringing his annual Memorial Day performance to Detroit in the form of a mock funeral and memorial for the Confederate Flag, featuring prominent area ministers, poets and activists: Jennifer Harge, Kim Hunter, Monica Lewis-Patrick, M.L. Liebler, Jessica Care Moore, Rev. Jeff Nelson, and Rev. Charles E. Williams II. This multi-media performance will include eulogies, remembrances and a performative cremation and will conclude with a repass. The event is held this year with the 50th year anniversary of the 1967 Riots/Rebellion in mind.
Sims, a native Detroiter, is currently completing the Recoloration Proclamation, a 16-year multi-media project which explores the complexity of identity, cultural appropriation and visual terrorism in the context of Confederate iconography and African-American culture. This system of works features recolored Confederate flags, installations, public performances, a play, a documentary film and a music project. In the past, he has exhibited a red, black and green Confederate battle flag in SoHo, and brought that same flag to an anti-KKK rally in Florida. He also hanged the Confederate flag in a noose in Gettysburg, organized Confederate flag burning installation at State Capitol in Columbia SC, and most recently, mock married a Confederate with a Union solider on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco.
Recently he presented a Woodward Lecture at College for Creative Studies and last year brought his AfroDixie Remixes to the DIA for Concert of Colors Concerts and at University of Michigan Dearborn Campus’ commemoration of 1967 50th Anniversary commemoration
In 2015 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, Sims organized a 13-state funeral for the Confederate flag on March 25, 2015—three weeks before the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Charleston murders led to his call to burn and bury the Confederate flag in all 50 states on the following 4th of July. Both of these actions were successful, with widespread participation and media coverage across the country. This lead to the creation of the annual Burn and Bury Confederate Flag Memorial and the website www.burnandbury.org
The goal of this annual action is to send a powerful message to the nation, especially under the Trump presidency and alt right politics that the Civil War is over, and the days of the Confederate Flag and white supremacy are numbered. It is also a way to honor the memory of social justice soldiers who fought against slavery and for Civil Rights and everywhere in between, and those who continue to fight against contemporary institutional and cultural white supremacy. Sims wants to send the message that it is time for the Confederate flag to act as a symbol for cathartic action, giving birth to a new ritual for all Americans to engage a moment and space of healing and transformation.
The Burn and Bury Memorial: Detroit 2017, ground zero for the national event will be hosted by the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art as a mock funeral memorial featuring prominent area ministers, poets and activists. This multi-media event will include eulogies, remembrances and a performative cremation and will conclude with a repass.
To download the Burn and Bury multi-media kit and see the event streamed live please visit www.burnandbury.org
To see the official Burn and Bury official music video please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rar_fYtqrtY
For more media references on this project please see:
by Judd Legum
by Steven W Thrasher
Why I Burned and Buried The Confederate Flag — And America Should, Too
About the artist: John Sims, a Detroit native, is a multi-media conceptual artist, writer and producer, creating projects spanning the areas of installation, text, music, film, performance and large scale activism. His main projects are informed by the vocabulary of mathematical structure, the politics of sacred symbols/anniversaries and the agency of poetry. He is currently completing the Recoloration Proclamation, a 16-year multimedia project featuring: a collection of various Confederate flags installations, a multi-state flag funerals/burnings/burials, a play, a documentary film and a music project containing 13 black music versions of the song Dixie.
He has lectured and exhibited both nationally and internationally and his work has been featured in Art in America, Sculpture, Transition, FiberArts, Science News, CNN, NBC News, New York Times, USA Today, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and the science journal Nature.