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Theater scholar Deise Nunes has a special interest in interdisciplinary collaboration. With a particular interest in intersections between ethnicity and gender in the art field, Nunes established the company Golden Mirrors Arts Norway in 2017, focusing on the production and dissemination of works by black women, During Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival 2020, she held the performance-lecture Decolonizing the performing arts II: The gaze, colonialism and aesthetics, asking the question: how is our gaze shaped in performing arts?

What does artistic freedom mean to you?

To me artistic freedom can be so much and perpass many factors. From freedom of speech, through opportunities to become an artist and live a good live as such, to the availability of platforms and means of transmission and diffusion. But it also relates to personal, communal and political processes of creating, curating and funding.

 

Why do you think artistic freedom is important?

Because it’s a fundamental right, likewise freedom of speech. But artistic freedom, again, like freedom of speech, cannot be a token for acts of totalitarianism and dehumanisation of minoritarian, vulnerable groups. Therefore it has to be constantly discussed.

 

How is artistic freedom put at risk?

In my country of origin, Brazil, artistic freedom is directly threatened. Censorship is a reality to many artists and groups, and there is a cultural crusade against certain artistic expressions. The funding policy there, or rather its absence, is also a means of controlling and limiting artistic freedom. I believe in specific situations where totalitarian forces are in power, it’s important to have strong communities and political actions to fight for, fund and protect artists and their work. Art institutions in that sense are oftentimes bound to public funding and politically instrumentalized, so they are not going to be agents of change. It is a challenging situation for all those who value the arts. 

 

Top photo: Deise Nunes.

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