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Sonya Lindfors: We Should all be Dreaming Radical Utopian Dreams of Common Futures

Feminist Futures is a new project, supported by Perform Europe and eight organisations across Europe, which looks to create anti-racist and intersectional performance contexts. Feminist Futures is a cross-Europe collaborative project which reimagines the way that artistic work is made, supported, and presented. 

 

The project is supporting the work of Cameroonian-Finnish dance artist and Somalian-Finnish artist Maryan Abdulkarim. Both artists focus on questions around Blackness and Black body politics, feminism, representation, power structures as well decolonial  dreaming practices. As part of the project, the artists will be bringing their work, We Should all be Dreaming, to London as part of LIFT Festival with additional workshops at Independent Dance

 

We caught up with Sonya Lindfors to hear more about the project, We Should all be Dreaming.

 

Grace Nicol: The work you’re bringing to London is called, We Should all be Dreaming, what would you say is your biggest dream? 

 

Sonya Lindfors: Ah, a tough yet easy one. As Maryan Abdulkarim and I are working with decolonial dreaming I think the biggest dream would be equity, equality and freedom for all; a world without structural oppression where everyone’s needs would be met, where we could coexist (we meaning human beings, other living and non-living things) without the need of coherence.

 

 

Grace: That sounds like a beautiful dream to me. So, where does this interest in dreaming come from?

Sonya: In a world plagued by multiple disasters, struggle, and oppression, what else can we do but dream. As the Afrofuturistic pioneer Sun Ra once said, ‘The possible has been tried and failed, now it is time to try the impossible’. As I come from art, I feel dreaming is the work of an artist; to try to envision existences, futures that we don’t know yet how to dream of.

 

For example:

What if there would no longer be structural oppression. No racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia. The climate crisis would have been solved. We would have moved to a post-capitalist society. Who would you be? How would you spend your time? How would your body feel? 

It’s a really hard dream to dream, but if we are not even dreaming of those futures, how could we know how to build towards them.

 

Dreaming as a word has been co-opted by the neoliberal consumer economy, but in We Should All Be Dreaming, dreaming is practiced collectively. It’s about how to dream for everybody, not just for yourself and collective dreams rather than just individual ones. 

 

Radical structural change often feels impossible until suddenly it happens. Covid-19 proved that change can happen fast, if there is incentive enough. So that is why we, not just Maryan and I, but everybody, need to keep dreaming.

 

Grace: I am really interested in what you are talking about. I’m particularly interested in the focus of bringing people together to build a future that is hopeful and positive. Speaking as a leftist myself it so often feels that our politics can be more about policing each other about the ‘right’ way to do things instead of challenging the structures which exist. From your perspective as an artist, what does the arts currently look like to you and what do you see as the challenges?

Sonya: Ah, well this is a long story of course. But I am based in Finland and the Finnish art field is still, in 2022, very homogenic, able bodied, middle class and white. Maybe unlike in other European countries, education really matters in Finland and the art schools are very exclusive and hard to get into. There are loads of structural barriers that prevent diversity in the field. 

 

Of course, some changes towards the better have been taken, especially after #metoo and BLM. But there is also a lot of performative action. Structural change is hard and uncomfortable, but it is possible. Currently, I am really busy with questions around power, responsibility and accountability. How to demand and hold institutions accountable.

 

Grace: I read that you see the potential of dreaming as a subversive and restorative practice where do you see that potential lying?

Sonya: Well, as I already said, the world right now is plagued with so many catastrophes; wars, famine, climate crises, inequality, structural oppression. Everything feels chaotic and sometimes it feels really hard to imagine any way out. 

 

During the sessions, we try to facilitate a space where different kinds of ways of being can be present simultaneously. The participants are invited to try to make themselves as comfortable as possible and work (and dream) on a level that is possible for them at the moment. 

 

Even that act of coming together to rest but also to dream and share dreams feels radical at a time where our conversations are oftentimes so much around urgency, disaster, struggle and pain. 

 

However, I also have to add that for us dreaming isn’t a passive action but an active practice, which is actually sometimes really hard work. We have joked with Maryan that it is a body pump for the mind. We are practicing expanding the boundaries of our imagination, the boundaries of the possible. Yet, after our dreaming sessions I always feel more grounded, softer, more at ease. 

 

We work a lot with speculative questions, what if questions, like,What if you would not feel fear any longer? How would your life change, how would your body feel?  Even if I don’t know the answer, just contemplating the question, staying with the questions, does something to me, to my body.

 

Grace: I can see how this could be really transformative. You also speak about ‘collective futures’ what does that look like? 

Sonya: Hopefully, joyous and free. Sustainable and green. Diverse and porous. Playful and supportive. But this is just the thing. No one can access collective dreams of collective futures by themselves. That is why we invite people to come together, to share their dreams and let their dreams exist to someone else. Our futures will not be coherent, so our dreams and our futures can't be that either. We cannot dream collectively alone. We need each other.

 

 

Grace: On that brilliant ending, can you tell us briefly about the project and how we can join in?

Sonya: So Feminist Futures has and will host live presentations of our work WSABD in London (UK), Trondheim (Norway), Oslo (Norway) and Berlin (Germany), as well as a digital screening of my work Cosmic Latte at the RE:LOCATIONS Digital Festival (Denmark). Partners for the project include: Rosendal International Theatre (Norway), RE:LOCATIONS – Digital festival by WILDTOPIA ApS (Denmark), CODA Oslo International Dance Festival(Norway), Oyoun Kultur NeuDenken gUG (Germany), LIFT Festival (UK), Independent Dance(UK), and H2DANCE/Fest en Fest (UK). 

 

The long-term aim is to collaborate to platform and promote queer, feminist, decolonial, migrant artist-led initiatives across Europe. 

 

Maryan and I will be bringing two versions of the work to London. The first will be at Lift Festival where, over the course of a curated dinner party on the 23 and 24 June, invited guests will be led in group discussions to dream-up common futures. Then on the 25 and 26 June we will be running a two day lab at Siobhan Davis Dance where we will introduce participants to WSABD concepts and structure. This lab involves provocations, questions, and collective moving practices for dreaming, with the aim to co-create a space with participants. It is open to artists, thinkers and activists who are happy to work with movement.

 

Find out more about the Feminist Futures project here and how you can attend the events.

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