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Duduzile Mathonsi is a South African artist living and working in Norway. She is an actress, writer, singer and performance artist. Her background is in TV and radio and her experience includes journalism. Mathonsi is the first black woman graduating from the Norwegian Theatre Academy with a B.A. in Acting. During Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival 2020, she is presenting her performance Bitch Where the Fuck is my Manifesto?!

What does artistic freedom mean to you?

I am a black heterosexual woman, born and raised in South Africa and currently living in Norway. And I have struggled in my attempt to answer: I cannot really tackle this question, as I am not sure whether it aligns with how someone who looks like me navigates in the world.

What does artistic freedom mean to you?

Well, it depends on whose answer I am giving. The chameleon’s answer, or Duduzile Libazisa sfiso Mathonsi’s answer? So, I have decided to give both.

The chameleon’s answer is:

that artistic freedom should be anyone’s right, and art can help change societies for the better. Artistic freedom is crucial in injecting different ways of critical thinking. It is supposed to work outside of systematic infringements of being, and therefore allowing free creation. Artistic freedom allows stories to be told without censorship of truths. It allows freedom of imagination and can allow important conversations to exist.  If we cannot express, then we can not exist; it is parallel with human rights.

My answer is:

Human rights? that’s a conversation that could go on for days! That being said, artistic freedom is relative, and we cannot ignore who it is offered to and how it is being offered. Now, as we all stand against the freedom of being artists, as we all join together as race and gender alike, let us not forget each other.

History has taught us that people of colour will go to war with whiteness, but when the victory is reeled in, there is a tendency to leave us behind. I have more than one protest; artistic freedom in general, systematic racism within the arts, and human rights before artistic freedom. Maybe, as we look into these days of FRI KUNST, let us also have a look at the systems that do not offer free art to all.

Artistic freedom is freedom of being

What I want to do in my artistry

And where my creative process wants me to be

Choosing art as a medium for my creative process

Not what I should represent or who

Artist freedom is the freedom to be Black

To have a singular identity amongst many other artists whatever colour they are.

Not decolonising because that is not my job

that is the job of the colonizer

Not making every artist decision on whether or not I am the spectacle or spectator

I want to make a theatre about A ROCK!

Yes, I too want to make theatre about a rock.

Top photo: Bård Halvorsen.

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