Sonya Lindfors is a Cameroonian-Finnish choreographer and the founding member and artistic director of UrbanApa, an inter-disciplinary and counter-hegemonic arts community based in Helsinki. She also works in the domains of facilitating, community organizing, and education. Lindfors creates performances, curated programs, and performative actions both independently and collaboratively. Her recent works centralize questions around Blackness and Black body politics, representation and power structures, speculative futurities and decolonial dreaming practices. In all her work, she strives to shake dominant structures by seeking to create and facilitate decolonial and feminist platforms enabling festivals, performances, publications and workshops to operate as a site of empowerment and radical subversive dreaming.
For Helsinki Biennial 2023, Lindfors created common moves, a new collaborative artwork she describes as ‘social choreography’ or ‘choreography of the community’.
The work operates as a speculative site. Through the act of occupying public space and applying simple scores and choreographies, it questions our conception of what is held to be ‘in common’, whether social norms or habits, whether something shared, public, or regularly occurring, whether something that is not underrepresented or marginalized, or whether something that does not stop the flow, that belongs. The work softly resists the current by changing and moving what is ‘common’.
The work was realized in collaboration with BIPOC artists in Helsinki and is thus rooted in local conversations and urgencies. common moves was experienced in Helsinki between 29 July and 13 August 2023 in several public spaces: Helsinki Central Library Oodi, Esplanadi park and Tallinnanaukio in Itäkeskus. Some of the dates, times and locations of the practices were published before hand and some were encountered without notice.
I often come back to this quote by Alice Walker: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
My work stems and grows from intersectional feminist and decolonial practices. For the past decade I have been busy attempting to dismantle, shake, deconstruct, and change oppressive and exclusionary structures and narratives while simultaneously imagining, speculating, and dreaming of other ways of knowing, being, coexisting, while striving to create new structures that can support, empower, validate, include, or root.
All my work takes place in communities, collaborations, and collectives, together with other people, makers, artists, activists, thinkers. Oftentimes those people belong to underrepresented groups. I am interested in how a platform, a workshop, a project, or a performance can act as a site of collective empowerment. Can a choreography become a temporary support structure, where the speculative power of the stage, staying with the unknown, repetitions of meanings, movements, landscapes or practices, or the proximity of other bodies can summon agency?
Choreography as an art of relations – temporal, spatial, sonic, semantic.
Choreography of meanings, objects, bodies, communities, movements, dreams, resonances, changes.
Choreography can be micro or macro.
Choreography as a practice of polycentricity and polyphony.
Choreography as a practice of creating space.
Lindfors is the founding member and Artistic Director of UrbanApa, an inter-disciplinary and counter hegemonic arts community that offers a platform for new discourses and feminist art practices. Lindfors’s performance works have been shown and supported by Beursschouwburg, Kampnagel, Spring Utrecht, CODA – festival, Black Box Theater Oslo, Zodiak – Centre for New Dance among others.
She is a member of Miracle Workers Collective that represented Finland at the 58th Venice Biennale. Lindfors has been awarded with several prizes, the latest being the state prize for public information in 2022 and the international Live art Anti Prize 2018. During season 2017–2018 Lindfors was the house choreographer for Zodiak – center for new dance in Helsinki.
Coreographer: Sonya Lindfors
Dramaturg: H Ouramo
Comissioned by HAM/Helsinki Biennial 2023