The Icelandic choreographer Bára Sigfúsdóttir represents a unique style of exploration and composition of movement that is both articulate and expressive, musical and distinctive. As she continues to increase her importance in contemporary dance internationally, she creates performances that are accessible to a wide-ranging audience. During Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival, she presented the performance FLÖKT – a flickering flow together with Tinna Ottesen.
What does artistic freedom mean to you?
For me, artistic freedom is the right of artists to create, communicate and reflect freely through their work in public and private spaces without fearing censorship, attack or punishment. It is a fundamental human right.
Artistic freedom also makes me think of having both the inner and outer freedom to do, think and communicate differently than what might be expected from our surrounding environment. To allow oneself to make something what one might not even like or understand at first, to take creative risks like there was nothing to lose and to dare to follow the unknown in a creative process instead of going for safer choices that “work” in our current social context.
Why do you think artistic freedom is important?
It feels important for me to live in a world where there is freedom and equality, and where human rights are respected. In places where those rights are not respected, that usually mirrors a society where not only artists lack freedom to express themselves, but other community members as well. That is also why we need to take care of and continuously protect artistic freedom. Through art, we hear different perspectives than the ones that tend to echo in the mainstream media. I think art empowers us as citizens to sense, feel, think and decide for ourselves by inviting different ways of seeing things than what we might experience in our personal environment and context. I also think that art can be supportive in reflecting upon contemporary society as well as it can challenge our social norms and trigger constructive criticism.
How is artistic freedom put at risk?
I have observed artistic freedom put at risk when political and/or economic pressed groups want to avoid an open and transparent dialogue about certain topics due to their own agendas.
I think we protect artistic freedom when we question and oppose censorship of any kind, but this is of course easier said than done as there are billions of different contexts in which artists are working around the world. I am aware that many artists cannot speak in an open transparent manner about their work as they would put themselves at risk. I think it is important to protect our own artistic environment and, in combination, seek out dialogues with artists in other contexts. I feel it would be nice to be more aware of each other’s working conditions to be able to connect with and support each other. I don’t know if there exists an international law that protects artistic freedom, but I definitely think there should be.
Top photo: Jolien Naeyaert.