New works by John Sims and James E. Reynolds will debut at La MaMa in December

Provocative new works by John Sims and James E. Reynolds will make its debut at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater (66 E. 4 St.) in December:

2020: (Di)Visions of America by multimedia conceptual artist, writer and activist John Sims From December 1 to 5. Based on Mr. Sims’ 20-year project RECOLORATION PROCLAMATION which confronts Confederate iconography and the associated mindset, this trilogy explores themes of white power and symbols, coronavirus and police brutality. New York premiere.


Story/Our Story: The Trail to Tulsa, designed, written and directed by James E. Reynolds December 9-12. In this year marking a full century since the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, The Trail to Tulsa is a town hall-style event that revisits the history that led to the violent destruction of Greenwood’s all-black section of this town in Oklahoma Oklahoma and its thriving business district known as “Black Wall Street”. World premiere.


ON John Sims – 2020 (Di)Visions of America

The Mama Artist in Residence John Sims will present a series of three multimedia performances, which combine performative letter writing, installation art, film, music, dance and video games by talking about some of the fears, asymmetry and historic fault lines that divide America. Based on themes of the Covid-19 pandemic, American police and their recoloration proclamation, a 20-year project that confronts and confiscates Confederate iconography and the symbols and spaces of American slavery, this series is a call for help, hope and healing.

For the past 6 years, Mr. Sims has participated in events where he publicly burned and buried the Confederate flag in states that were part of the Confederacy. In May 2021 in Columbia, South Carolina, Sims was held at gunpoint, detained and handcuffed in his own gallery apartment by police who claimed he believed he was an intruder.

The trilogy begins with AFRODIXIESREMIX: A Listening Session, a 14-track collection of the DIXIE song in the many genres of black music: spiritual, blues, gospel, jazz, funk, calypso, samba, soul, R&B, house and hip-hop. poof. This audiovisual work was recently installed at the Confederate Chapel as part of the recent DIRTY SOUTH exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Arts. Of AFRODIXIESREMIX, The New York Times wrote, “Composed for minstrel shows and intended to poke fun at clichés of ‘happy’ black slave life, Sims does not rewrite the song, but simply records that it’s sung in a wide range of black music styles, undermining, through genius appropriation, its white supremacist punch.”

The series also includes the experimental animated film that tells the story of the Recoloration Proclamation by fusing space and time, art and activism, and text and visuals to right one of America’s most controversial and problematic symbols – the Confederate flag. This film spans 20 years, from Harlem to Gettysburg, from the galleries to the streets, to a post-Civil War fantasy slave plantation in search of redemption, healing and justice. For the trailer see here.

2020’s main entry: (Di)Visions of America is a multimedia performance, first created by the artist as part of his residency at the Ringling Museum of Art and is shaped by the fear, protest and division caused by the central events of 2020: Pandemic of COVID 19, police killing of George Floyd and setback of Confederate iconography, memorial spaces and monuments.

Inspired by his Op-Eds in response and an evolving self-portrait, this show confronts these main themes of 2020 with his video game KoronaKilla, the audiovisual piece Dear Police and a reimagined animation of Florida’s Gamble Plantation as a slave. . Memorial with a performance of letters by Dr. Lisa Merritt, Chandra Carty and John Sims performed by an award-winning theatre. As well John Sims will perform his Dear Police letter as well as a re-enactment of his recent police detention at an art residency in Columbia, South Carolina.

John Sims, originally from Detroit, is a Sarasota-based conceptual/multimedia artist, writer, and activist who creates art and curatorial projects spanning the fields of installation, performance, text, music, film, and large-scale activism, informed by math, design, white supremacy politics, sacred symbols/anniversaries, and poetic/political text. For 20 years, he has worked at the forefront of contemporary mathematical art and led the national rollback of Confederate iconography. His performance work has been shown across the country at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Museum of African American Culture, the Ringling Museum of Art, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Currently, he is artist-in-residence at La Mama Experimental Theater Club.

Currently, he is completing his two-decade national arts activism project, Recoloration Proclamation, which features recolored Confederate flags; a suspended installation in Gettysburg; funerals under the Confederate flag from 13 southern states; videos; site-specific performance; a piece; a collection of experimental films; the AfroDixieRemixes music project, the annual Burn and Bury Confederate Flag Memorial; and the Kennedy Museum’s outdoor performance and exhibit on “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 from across the country.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The 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, The Rumpus and TheGrio.

In this centennial year of the Tulsa Race Massacre, James E. Reynolds‘S HISTORY/OURSTORY: The Trail to Tulsa delves into history from the mid-18th century to the 20th century, from the founding of the colony of Georgia to the introduction of black people into what was then Indian Territory, from the war civil and reconstruction to the establishment of Oklahoma as the 46th state in the country, until the destruction of the section of Greenwood, nicknamed “The Black Wall Street”, i.e. the massacre of the Tulsa race in 1921.

Designed, written and directed by James E. Reynolds, a town hall-type gathering serves as a framework for HISTORY/NOSTORY: The Trail to Tulsa planned for the Ellen Stewart Theater at La MaMa from December 9 to 12. The production weaves primary source documents and other historical texts with responses to these materials by artists in a variety of media to resurrect a buried and disturbing history that culminated in the appalling destruction of Black Tulsa.

Artists participating in HISTORY/OURSTORY include Will Bellamy, Leland Gantt, Charley Heyward, Justin Hicks, Isabel Leight, Ashton Muniz, Maya Sharp and Henu Josephine Tarrant. Truth Bachman is musical director.

This theatrical documentary strives to break the narrow parameters of what is traditionally considered “American history” and to elevate the voices and illuminate the experiences of those who are rarely welcomed to the table of historical significance.

James E. Reynolds, an emerging theater artist based in Brooklyn, was the principal investigator for the HBO Sports Peabody Award-winning documentary series, Journey of the African American Athlete, which explored the intersection of athletic achievement and social change. In 2019, Reynolds created for La MaMa HISTORY/OURSTORY: Four Hundred Years of Inequity, as part of the theater’s 1619 celebrations.

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