Greetings to you on the first day of our new year! I thought it fitting to initiate the new year with the work of a U.S. based activist and performance artist. I am honored to feature PREACH R. SUN. Sun has been cultivating a path toward absolute liberation as a part of his life's mission. In this week's Artist Feature, Sun addresses his current project, ONEMAN, confronts his views on performance art and the importance of the viewer.
Quinn Dukes: Can you discuss your current project?
Preach R. Sun: My work is part of my ongoing life’s mission (and praxis) – for absolute liberation – which I call, ONEMAN: The Liberation Project. I am currently in the second phase/series of this project. The first phase/series, ONEMAN: MY-Story of the Angry Black, also referred to as the, 'Sermon Series', dealt with what I considered to be the first step towards liberation, which is the act of speaking. The 'Sermon Series' involved 3 chapters (1. The Street Speaker, 2. A-MAN? And 3. Blood-N-Brothers) and culminated into what I call a Reveal – the Reveal represents the completion of one phase and the coming of another. The Reveal for the Sermon Series was Chrysalis [CRY-SOLACE]. The current series is, ONEMAN: Fugitivism, Black Arts and Barbarian Invasions. This series deals with what I consider to be the next step in the process of liberation and that step is action. Mind you, this phase/series is also intended to serve as a type of statement and or question regarding my idea of art as a tool and a vehicle for social change and activism.
QD: What led you to performance art?
PRS: To be perfectly honest, I’m still a bit apprehensive about calling myself a performance artist. Believe it or not, I actually find the title a bit intimidating. I still tend to feel like an outsider to performance art. This is mainly due to how I perceive performance art in comparison to the work I create. I mean, the way I see it performance art, in general, seems to be quite academic in its exploration and investigation of aesthetic based ideas and theoretical and philosophical concepts. And don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. It’s just not what I do. I’m just really not that interested in the whole, what and why art is, conversation. You see, for me it’s rather simple. My work is pretty direct and unambiguous. It's first and foremost driven by activism.
In this regard art is merely the agent or medium I use to conjure or activate. It’s essential that the work is accessible to any and everyone who views it. I’m not really trying to alienate the viewer. I’m not trying to go over your head. I’m speaking directly to you. I need you to understand and feel me as this is imperative to my ultimate objective. It is for this very reason that I actually describe what I do as conjuring or Fugitivism. Fugitivism being the name I’ve created to describe this whole concept of conjuring to incite action. So, in this respect, I suppose you could say my activism lead me to performance art.
QD: Are there performance artists working today that influence your practice?
PRS: No disrespect, but I can’t say that my work is influenced by any artist so much as it’s influenced by real issues and people. My work is influenced by oppression and injustice. It’s informed and influenced by the poor, marginalized and disenfranchised. The radicals and revolutionaries. The political activist, protesters, addicts, prisoners and fugitives. It’s the movement and struggle that influences what I do. However, I will say there is one performance artist that truly inspires me to do the work and that artist is, none other than, Whitney V. Hunter (my brother). Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of bad ass artists (past and present) that have been creating socially, culturally and politically conscious work that resonates with me such as: Tameka Norris, Sherman Fleming, Dread Scott, William Pope.L, Adrian Piper, Nyugen Smith, Miao Jiaxin, Mehdi-Georges Lahlou, Jeannette Ehlers, Chun Hua Catherine Dong, Panoply, Future Death Toll… The list goes on and on.
RECENT PERFORMANCES FROM PREACH R. SUN
All images are courtesy of the artist.