Exhibition reception, lecture, panel discussion and community-sponsored Confederate flag hanging performance by artist John Sims

Ohio University presents visiting artist John Sims, in conjunction with the Kennedy Museum of Art’s exhibition “Expression and Repression: Contemporary Art Censorship in America” on view Oct. 27–Dec. 22, for an artist lecture, a panel discussion and an exhibition reception, Oct. 25–27, on the Athens campus. There will also be a community-sponsored performance of “Confederate Flag: A Public Hanging” as part of his visit.

Sims is a Detroit-based interdisciplinary creator whose work encompasses areas of art, text, mathematics, performance and political-media activism. His current work is an ongoing project, “Recoloration Proclamation,” featuring recolored and hung Confederate flag installations, a music project called “The AfroDixieRemixes,” and a nationwide Confederate flag funeral performance, “Burn and Bury,” each Memorial Day.

Sims has curated several exhibitions, has been featured and has lectured internationally, and his work has been covered in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Root, ThinkProgress, Al Jazeera, Guernica, Art in America, Sculpture, FiberArts, Science News, CNN, NBC News, and Nature. He has written for CNN, Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and The Grio. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnSimsProject.

Lecture: “Transformation Proclamation: Flags, Fire and Freedom—A John Sims Lecture,” Wednesday, Oct. 25, 7-8:30 p.m., Schoonover Hall 145

Sims will discuss his 16-year multimedia project “Recoloration Proclamation,” examining the politics of sacred symbols, social identity and visual terrorism through confrontation of the flag, music and iconography of the Confederacy. The lecture, as an outline for a forthcoming book, traces the growth of the project as it has traveled across the nation to charged spaces, and how it has developed from a red, black and green bumper sticker to an annual ritual of burning and burying the Confederate flag. The lecture will discuss how this project also inspired efforts to take down Confederate memorials in New Orleans. The talk will highlight the installation, “The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag,” and its role in moving discourse beyond the display issues of Confederate flags and monuments to bring the historical and present “geist" of the Confederacy to justice. This event is sponsored by the Kennedy Museum of Art.

Community Sponsored Performance: “Confederate Flag: A Public Hanging”
Thursday, Oct. 26, noon, Scripps Amphitheater

For this community-sponsored event, Sims will present for the first time “Confederate Flag: A Public Hanging,” a performance featuring the installation, “The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag,” a Confederate flag hanging from a 13-foot gallows. This symbolic hanging is an act of justice for the various crimes of white supremacy, Jim Crow segregation, and contemporary terrorism associated with this flag and the Confederacy.

The artist states, “As Confederate flags and monuments come down all across the country, it is the time more than ever to bring the Confederacy, its history, symbols and icons to justice.”

After the hanging, a potluck picnic will follow, as was customary after public executions in the 1800s. The noosed flag will join the exhibition “Expression and Repression” at the Kennedy Museum of Art, following this event.

To view a live broadcast, go to www.burnandbury.org. The community-sponsored performance is supported by Black Life Action Coalition, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Appalachia Resist, Mountain Justice, Shagbark Seed and Mill, Athens Girls Rock Camp, United Campus Ministry, and the Appalachian Peace and Justice Network.

Exhibition: “Expression and Repression: Contemporary Art Censorship in America”
Opening reception at the Kennedy Museum of Art, The Ridges
Oct. 27–Dec. 22, 2017  
Opening reception: Thursday, Oct. 26, 5-7 p.m.

“Expression and Repression” explores the work of four contemporary artists who have been censored within the last 30 years, including Sims, Sue Coe, Kara Walker and David Wojnarowicz. Sims’ installation, “The Proper Way to Hang the Confederate Flag,” will be featured in the exhibition. This exhibition presents the artwork within the context of freedom of expression, discussing how the artists use subversive or symbolic subject matter in their work to evoke critical thought about significant social issues and conditions, and how and why their work has been repressed or censored in the United States. This is an Honors Tutorial College thesis exhibition curated by Art History Senior Erica Spilger, and sponsored by the Kennedy Museum of Art and the College of Fine Arts.

Panel Discussion: “Beyond the Flag: Art, Activism, and White Supremacy”
Friday, Oct. 27, noon
Panel Discussion, Walter Rotunda

This discussion panel will host several speakers, including visiting artist John Sims and painter and medical student Angel Garnette, to discuss the intersectionality of race, art and activism. The panel will serve as a platform to talk about Black art and censorship of the Black artist, and will allow the speakers to ask and answer questions about the issues discussed. Light refreshments will be served. This discussion is sponsored by the Multicultural Center and Department of African American Studies.

University sponsors for the artist lecture, panel discussion and exhibition include: Kennedy Museum of Art, College of Fine Arts, English Department, the LGBT center, the Black Student Cultural Programming Board, Multicultural Center and the Department of African American Studies.

October 16, 2017
Staff reports