In this interview, artistic director and choreographer Thomas Prestø speaks with cultural studies scholar Dr. Gladys M. Francis about his personal journey as a hyper visible black boy who grew up in a Norwegian region known as the hub for neo-Nazi groups that subjected him to various forms of torture. Prestø discusses how these experiences shaped his politics of arts when he founded the Tabanka Dance company to promote “a sustainable black identity” that converges both Caribbean and African movement aesthetics to tell the stories of blacks in Norway. Prestø presents how is body of work informs Black Diaspora studies in terms of art and culture through issues of minority identities, body-memory, body-politics, and political and cultural agency relating to black performances and cultures in Norway. He discusses principles on “Caribfuturism” and corporealities within what he calls “the uniqueness of the Afropean, the Afro-Scandinavian and the poly-Diasporan.” His insights on the prejudiced mechanisms of representation and segmentation of cultures visible in Norway also convey how his artistic productions offer challenging aesthetics and representations of gender and sexuality for performing brown and black artists. The following segments were gathered during his dance fellowship in Dakar Senegal in 2018, my scholar appointment in Norway in 2019, and follow up discussions in spring 2021.
Francis, Gladys M. "Performing while Black: Disrupting Gender and Sexuality from Trinidad to Norway. The Artivism of Thomas Prestø." Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies. Toronto: The University of Toronto Press, 21.2 (September, 2021): 279-296. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.21.2.2021.05.14.2