Nsumi, or "Nsumi Collective" is an art collective, initially formed as a New School student association called Nsumiscope in the fall of 2001 around the time of 9/11. Nsumi's work occurs mostly within the back-end of the art world where ideas wobble around before becoming embodied as art.
Nsumi is influenced by Dadaism and creative subcultures as well as from communications theories such as cryptomnesia, autopoiesis and the ideas of Niklas Luhmann. Their insider/outsider practice involves a range of disciplines including traditional art, trend analysis and Network theory, urban planning and mapping, ecosystems theory, grassroots organizing and prefigurative politics. Their projects, which are not always documented or publicized, tend to last for years at a time.
Members of Nsumi have claimed that the group spawns art collectives and experimental groups through an ongoing gift economy consulting project as well as workshops, art exhibitions and performances, zines, academic research, and public interventions. The group's changing membership includes educators, artists, scientists, architects, landscape designers, curators, collectors, un-trained artists and non-artists.
Nsumi operates fluidly, frequently collaborating with artists and other art collectives such as Trevor Paglen, Brandon Ballengée, Rainer Ganahl, AUNTS Collective and Peter Fend, in addition to artists and others who participate anonymously.
Sometimes Nsumi fully or partially joins other art groups, adopting an individual or quasi-individual identity. Occasionally the group will exchange or swap members with different collectives, bring on temporary members, or work with artists who join the group for one-off events and exhibitions. Nsumi blurs its own boundaries since it is unclear which identity the group is operating through at a given moment or who exactly is involved. Nsumi operates under different monikers, such as Lightning Chasers, Black Magic Guild and Nsumi Group, and has been known to appear in the same group exhibition under multiple individual and group names.
Nsumi also appears in more conventional art exhibitions at galleries, universities and museums including the Queens Museum, Deitch Projects and the Center for Architecture in New York City. Their work has appeared in Satya magazine, ARTE Television and TRACKS TV in Europe, Total Theatre Magazine, The New York Times, Archinect, The Economist, the New York Sun, and Art News.
Between 2013 and 2014 Nsumi launched two projects that blur the lines between creative production and grassroots politics. Banner Action (begun 2013) is a process involving protest banners, formal decentralization, semiotics and memetics. Oubliettes (begun 2014) is a project about prison abolition and the human rights crimes that have taken place at the MDC federal prison facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, following up on their 2005 collaboration with Trevor Paglen. So far this work has involved a gallery exhibition, guerrilla mobilization actions, sculpted rumors and rumor diffusion, and a workshop series in several NYC high schools. The project resulted in a protest outside MDC prison on New Year's Eve, December 2014.
- NY Sun Newspaper review of a conference about the anthropologist Gregory Bateson. Nsumi both organized and participated in this event
- Program for the Bateson conference, which took place at the CUNY Graduate Center and the Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley
- Socialart.com's A Loose History of Art Collectives Nsumi is listed two times, once as Nsumi and once under another name
- Slides from the Nsumi/Trade School presentation on Swarm Intelligence from the Creative Time/Living as Form show in 2011
- Impose Magazine coverage of Nsumi exhibiting under the name Space Puppets, as a part of a DIY music festival: You Are Here/The Maze Show at Death by Audio