a portrait of John Sims, a Black man wearing sunglasses, a brown leather jacket, and a black shirt and scarf

"Entirely sonic, the Sims piece is based on a single familiar song, 'Dixie,' composed for pre-Civil War minstrel shows and meant to mock clichés of 'happy' Black slave life. (It’s possible that its lyricists were Black.) Later, with altered verses, it became the national anthem of the Confederacy, and then the canonical expression of Lost Cause nostalgia in the Jim Crow era. Sims doesn’t rewrite the song; he simply records it being performed by Black musicians in a range of Black music styles — gospel, blues, soul, hip-hop — undercutting, through genius appropriation, its white supremacist punch."

The New York Times — Art Meets Its Soundtrack Deep in 'The Dirty South'

"Entirely sonic, the Sims piece is based on a single familiar song, 'Dixie,' composed for pre-Civil War minstrel shows and meant to mock clichés of 'happy' Black slave life. (It’s possible that its lyricists were Black.) Later, with altered verses, it became the national anthem of the Confederacy, and then the canonical expression of Lost Cause nostalgia in the Jim Crow era. Sims doesn’t rewrite the song; he simply records it being performed by Black musicians in a range of Black music styles — gospel, blues, soul, hip-hop — undercutting, through genius appropriation, its white supremacist punch."

The New York Times — Art Meets Its Soundtrack Deep in 'The Dirty South'

a black arrow pointing downward

John Sims is a multimedia conceptual artist, writer, and activist, whose work is informed by mathematics/technology, poetic/political text and social justice activism. His performance work has been featured across the country including Virginia Museum of Arts, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Ringling Museum of Art, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, The Guardian, Art in America, Nature and Scientific American. He has written for CNN, Al Jazeera, The Tampa Bay Times, Guernica Magazine, and The Rumpus.


The Brooklyn Rail — John Sims with Kristin Prevallet

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