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Choreographer Sonya Lindfors wins international art award

Artist Sonya Lindfors is the second Finn to win the ANTI Live Art Prize. Her work centres on equality and diversity.

Sonya Lindfors
Sonya Lindfors at Helsinki's Cable Factory arts centre. Image: Mårten Lampén

This year's ANTI Live Art Prize has been awarded to choreographer and community organiser Sonya Lindfors. She is the second artist from Finland to receive the international award.

The 30,000-euro prize is affiliated with the ANTI Festival, a contemporary art festival organised in Kuopio since 2002 and featuring performances and works from artists around the world. Half of the prize sum will go toward preparing a new performance for the ANTI Festival 2019, as is customary.

Lindfors is best known for her work with modern theatre and dance, with productions commenting on issues of equality and diversity – or lack thereof – gaining popularity each year.

"Her practice is of vital importance to its immediate contexts and Lindfors works to allow others to work, to create spaces of exchange and dialogue where previously they were missing. Her contribution to arts and culture is quickly becoming essential, foundational to the sets of social discourses around equality, diversity, gender, and sexuality that are reshaping our world," the ANTI prize jury statement reads.

Taking a stand

According to the festival website, Lindfors' trilogy of performance pieces – NOIR? (2013), NOBLE SAVAGE (2016) and COSMIC LATTE (2018) – "centralizes questions around blackness, black body politics, race, and representation".

Lindfors is unequivocal in her critique of Finland's art world, which she says is too hierarchical and homogenic for voices and artists of varied backgrounds to be properly heard.

"We cannot pretend that a homogenic group of people could be able to tell diverse stories or even maintain interest in diverse stories," Lindfors said, warning that the theatre will be abandoned by the younger generations if radical changes aren't brought about.

Lindfors is the second person from Finland to receive the Live Art Prize. The previous winner from 2016 is installation artist Terike Haapoja.

In 2010 Lindfors and fellow artist Anniina Jääskeläinen founded the UrbanApa Festival, "a concept that functions in the field of urban arts by producing events, performances, clubs, music festivals, site specific performances and workshops for young people," the website reads. This year's festival runs 4-7 October at the Ateneum Art Museum in central Helsinki.

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