John Cussans is an artist, arts educator and writer who works across the fields of contemporary art, cultural history and critical theory. His work explores the legacies of colonialism, psychoanalysis and surrealism in art, cinema and popular culture from ethnographic, science fictional and social psychology perspectives. He has written and taught on Western constructions of the alien, inhuman and primitive and and their subversions in art, anti-psychiatry and philosophy with a specific focus on Haiti and British Columbia. He is a member of SMRU (Social Morphologies Research Unit) a collaboration between artists and anthropologists based at University College London.
His book Undead Uprising: Haiti, Horror and the Zombie Complex (MIT/Strange Attractor 2017) explores the uses of Haiti as a locus for Euro-American fears about African culture, spirituality and revolutionary excess in the Americas, and their sublimation into popular horror tropes. It has been described by LeGrace Benson, President of the Haitian Studies Association, as a must read for anyone wishing to understand more about the destinies of African-based religions in the Americas.
He has a multi-disciplinary arts practice, often working collaboratively on projects inspired by the shared interests of an affinity group. He has exhibited work at many international galleries including: Barbara Thumm (Berlin), Broel Museum (Belgium), Cabinet (London), Focal Point Gallery (Southend), Gallery Afa (Santiago), ICA (London), IMT (London), Künstbunker (Nuremburg), Lobe Gallery (Berlin), Peloton Gallery (Sydney), Sketch (London), South London Gallery and the V&A (London). His writing has been published in Dau Bulletin, Frozen Tears I, II and III, The Happy Hypocrite, Strange Attractor Journal and Transmission Annual.
In 2001 he co-founded The Bughouse, an international artistic research project celebrating the work of Philip K. Dick that culminated in two collective multi-media art events: Project VALIS (2002) and The Ideoplasmic Congress (2003). Since 2009 he has been closely involved with the Ghetto Biennale, an international art event that takes place in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He is currently working on a long-term artistic research project called The Skullcracker Suite, investigating cultural decolonization in British Columbia, Canada.
He has a PhD in Cultural History from the Royal College of Art, an MA in Art History and Theory from the University of Essex and a BA in Graphic Design and Illustration from Northumbria University. He has taught contextual studies, art history and fine art studio practice at many educational institutions including Bergen Academy of Art and Design (Norway), Emily Carr University of Art and Design (Vancouver), Goldsmiths College (London), Central Saint Martins (London), the Royal Academy (London) and the Royal College of Art (London). Between 2015 and 2018 he was the MFA Course Director at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford.
He is an associate lecturer in the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths (University of London) and on the MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy program at Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts, London).