John Cussans

John Cussans

Senior Lecturer Fine Art

School of Arts

Art & Design Communication

Contact Details

tel: 01905 85 5332



PhD Cultural History, Royal College of Art 
MA Art History and Theory, University of Essex
Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Art, Design and Communication, University of the Arts,
BA (Hons.) Graphic Design and Illustration, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Polytechnic

John is an artist and writer working across the fields of contemporary art, cultural history and practice-led artistic research. His work explores the legacies of colonialism in art, cinema and popular culture from anthropological, psychological and science fictional perspectives.

Since 2009 John has been involved with the Ghetto Biennale, an international arts event that takes place in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 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 and spirituality, and their sublimation into popular horror tropes.

In 2016 John was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship for a long-term artistic research project called The Skullcracker Suite which investigates processes of decolonization in British Columbia (Canada) from anthropological, Indigenous and science fictional perspectives. The first phase of this project, BC Time-Slip (The Empire Never Ended), used the planetary colonization narratives of Philip K. Dick as the basis for an experimental research installation at Dynamo Arts Association (Vancouver).

John has a special interest in the use of diagrams in art and design education and is a member of the Social Morphologies Research Unit (SMRU), a collaboration between anthropologists and artists investigating the creative, political and educational use of diagrams.



Teaching and Research Interests

Contemporary Art

Art and Psychology

Art History and Theory

Art and Anthropology

Critical Theory


Science Fiction Studies

Horror Studies

Social Psychology

Environmental Psychology


Recent Exhibitions and Public Presentations

‘Art, Ecology and Science Fiction Talks Program’, Stroud Valley Arts (June-November 2019)

‘Tansy and Me: Invasive Species, Ecological Imperialism and Hereditary Biogeography’ presentation at Supernormal Festival, Braziers Park, Oxford (August 2019)

Public Talk ‘BC Time-Slip/Cannibal Metaphysics (Part.2)’, part of the Morphologies of Invisible Agents, Space Studios, London (May 2019)

Talk ‘Vodou 2.0: Countering Popular Misconceptions of Vodou for the 21st Century’, Konesans Conference on Haitian Studies, Newcastle University (April 2019)

Installation Authority Figures (The Eerie and Uncanny Invasion of One Person’s World by Another Person’s World) w/Kelly Fagan Robinson as part of the group show Morphologies of Invisible Agents, Space Studios, London (April-May 2019)

Talk on the theme of ‘Crowds’ for the inaugural event of the Invisible College’s 9 Gates series, hosted by the Philadelphia Association, London (January 2019)

Lecture ‘Bwa Kayiman and the Simbi-Makaya Egregor’ at Occulture Esoteric Conference, Berlin, (November 2018)

Presentation ‘The Revolutionary Practice of Art Theory: Pedagogical Diagrams for Art and Social Change since the 1960s’, Association of Social Anthropologists Annual Conference, University of Oxford (September 2018)

Research Installation BC Time-Slip (The Empire Never Ended), Dynamo Arts Association, Vancouver (August 2016). 

Recent Publications

‘A Taste for Blood and Truth: Bill Gunn’s Ganja and Hess’ in Scared Sacred: Idolatry, Religion and Worship in the Horror Film, House of Leaves Press (2020)

‘Special Investigations: Randy Cutler Interviews John Cussans’ in Knowings and Knots: Methodologies and Ecologies in Practice-Led Research, University of Alberta Press (2019)

‘The Exhausting Contours of Exuberance’ essay for Dau Bulletin #5, Phenomen Films, London (2019)

‘In the House of The Man-Eater’ catalogue essay in Beau Dick: Devoured by Consumerism, Figure.1 Vancouver (2019)

‘WEIRD Commerce (Proverbs from the Gossip Wall)’, Ghetto Biennale Catalogue 2009-215, Central Books, London (2017)

Undead Uprising: Haiti, Horror and the Zombie Complex, Strange Attractor/MIT Press, London (2017)

External Roles

Member of ORCID Academia and Beyond: Arts and Humanities Taskforce (Apr. – Nov. 2019)                         

Peer reviewer for Working with Diagrams issue of Social Analysis journal, Berghahn Books (Oct. 2018)              

External Examiner for RCA PhD candidate Susannah E. Haslam. Thesis: After the Educational Turn – Alternatives to the Alternative Art School (May 2018)

External Examiner for RCA PhD candidate Hyukgue Kwon. Thesis: Curating Beyond Representation - the paradox of curating as a site of dialogics (May 2016)

Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London (Sep. 2013 – 2016)

External Examiner for BA Fine Art (Theory) and BA Arts and Media (Theory), University of the Creative Arts, Farnham (2013 – 17)