Dance, discourses & cultural identity

Ainu Women's Association, Sapporo

In April – May 2019 I was granted an artistic research trip to Kofu and Hokkaido in Japan by the Swedish Art Council. The aim was to start a cultural exchange between Sápmi and the Ainu people of Japan, with dance and music acting as a building bridge between our two cultures.
The questions and discourses on body representation within indigenous cultures I found was connected with the historical and current cultural politics in Sweden and Japan, which made this artistic approach to dance and body highly political – feeling a sense of duty to question activism in relation to choreography and academic research.
In essence, I was always “the dancer” in my career, meaning, persisting in my passion and desires to move unconditionally and with full dedication to dance as the dancing is – I found quite suddenly that my own cultural identity in being a double minority instead of feeling a part of the majority in Sweden, had to deepen the way I was analysing my moving body.
Wether I was moving on instinct, intuition and passion – outliving desires with my movements, I could not help to start thinking about cultural identity and inherited memories of other moving bodies in the past – feeling a sense of inherited trauma – even – from my indigenous background.
This is the real birth of my project Humans & Soil.

How does cultural background affect how the body is seen?
How is identity connected with self expression and performativity?
How do I put myself, the body, in an in-between representation? 

How is preservation of culture important to indigenous bodies?

First residency granted in Ricklundgården, Saxnäs in Sweden

Aside from the personal and soulful, I decided that the aim of Humans & Soil would be to collaborate with activists, academics and artists who wanted to question the institutionalised artistic, indigenous processes and instead go to the core of what it means to demand and fight for cultural rights. What influence did we actually have on the struggle and fight for land rights for the Sámi reindeer industry, the repatriation of bones for the Ainu people through artistic processes? Was my research methods really different from the ones used by journalistic practices? Was I turning into a politician, activist, performance artist, a masters student?
How do I keep persisting in my desire to dance, retaining the dancing and the work behind being able to dance?
How to I keep the dancing from becoming an accessory to my research?

The only way I found to answer those questions was to plan for Humans & Soil to become an organisation.

The organisation project is open to scholars, activists, artists, dancers, school children, operas, institution to take part in analysing, talking, performing, writing, investing and provoking action toward climate adaptation justice, as long as I keep dancing, as long as we keep dancing, and as long as the body is the main source of communication.
The humanity, the human and the soil is the body, and the foundation for communication, catalyst and agent for this work.

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