nomadic activist fannie sosa spreads the word and teaches twerk
Adopting an anagram of her birth name Sofia Senna, Fannie Sosa is a mystical being.
Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Fannie Sosa has since lived between South America and Europe, stopping off almost everywhere in between. As an activist, artist, teacher and PhD student, her work spans gender, feminism, sexuality and spirituality. Stealing her away from performing with her Poussy Draama collective, lecturing at universities, rapping with her sisterhood and running her worldwide series of twerkshops, we call on the high priestess of ass-shaking for a lesson on being endlessly curious, what activism means to her, and why to twerk is to speak up.
Where do you live right now?
I live on the road teaching - and learning - mainly between Europe and South America. A huge moving privilege based on the quest to get rooted somewhere that doesn't punish me for being a second class citizen with a second class passport, and to always be in touch with big bodies of water.
What do you do?
I create round spaces to exchange knowledge, gather strength and nurture people - especially women and genderfluid identified bodies - especially women and genderfluid identified bodies of colour. So far they are called 'twerkshops', but they are in constant evolution.
What does the word activism mean to you?
Activism for me is to act, to believe and to imagine. I am on a quest to increase my agency - my capacity to act on myself and on my self-love, on loving others, and ultimately loving everything that surrounds us; our mother the Earth. I believe it's all connected and that very often we need to start by faking it until we make it. I am still sexist, I am still racist and I think we're ALL deformed like that. But I'm repeating mantras of higher love to break free on a regular and infinite basis.
Activism for me is also linked to unbreakable faith, which is why it is a spiritual path. An activist is a person that still believes there is something to be done on this plane, that a change of paradigm is necessary and possible. Nothing or no one can break that faith. And then there is the imagination, the child-like faculty to imagine with patience and joy, the ability of being endlessly curious, always asking "Why is this like this? Does it have to be like this? Was it always like that?" I use that vision and curiosity to enable realities where the rules are different or non-existant. I believe liberation movements started with people imagining shit that sounded crazy, even irresponsible. Rosa Parks sat her ass down when it did not look like that was a possibility: she had mad imagination. An activist for me is someone that has a rooted understanding of the need to build, to connect, to thrive, and who prioritises that over the need to dynamite the repressive frames that govern our existence. She doesn't only attack, denounce, or destroy: she uses her visionary common sense to enable her vision, helped by other visionaries and their knowledge.
What issues are close to your heart?
Being a woman is to be in pain, be it losing your 'virginity', having your period, giving birth, being 'beautiful', being feminine/visible in public. There is a widespread campaign of disinformation that pain is totally normal and doesn't need to be checked when you are a woman. You give birth in pain… no big deal. You suffer to be beautiful to a certain gaze… no big deal. You get raped and killed for being femme… you asked for it. How many trans women have been murdered since the beginning of this year? This is not ok - it is not normal. In any medicine, when something is in pain, weather the soul or the body, it is recognised as pathological. When it comes to the bodies of women, no one cares, including the women themselves. So many of us are more connected with pharmaceuticals than with our own bodies and their cycles. For example, being fertile is the pill, being infertile or hairy or spotty is hormones, having difficult periods is ibuprofen, being depressed is Ritalin. Very few of us are willing to tackle the root of all this pain, to truly examine our soul and soil to see we are alienated by this paradigm we're currently existing within, and have been living in for millennia. When we do stand up and speak up against this pain, we are deemed hysteric, undesirable, even dangerous - whether it is in submission or empowerment, woman-ness is this pathological state. I am working to re-map this hate and this pain to turn it into love of our sexual, moist, blissful, fertile nature (fertile in the sense of creative powers; be it of life, of peace, or of knowledge, I believe fertility resides the womb space we are gifted as a femme consciousness). What gives me life it is to dismantle this pathological pain, and to turn it into mad unapologetic, fearless, shameless pleasure. And I have succeeded numerous times.
Why do you twerk?
I twerk to remember. I twerk to resist. I twerk to remember my roots; my foremothers that danced with their ass since the dawn of humanity and mastered their fertility outside of phallic towers of control like the state and the church. Twerking is intrinsically linked with women in control of their bodies and their wombs. It is contraceptive, abortive and orgasmic when done with certain awareness - as in, outside of the male gaze, for ourselves to ourselves, it is concentrated realigning, healing and autonomous power. I twerk to resist the many intersecting powers that want me crazy and sick, repressed and depressed. I twerk to resist the white supremacist male gaze that states that twerking is only there for its consumption. I am not there for that gaze. It is hard to escape it, because it is inbuilt in the eyes we use to look at women being sexual and present, including ourselves. I resist the slut-shaming conditioning that informs my gaze. I resist the powers that want to break our circles, our sisterhood and our collective motherhood and authority. I author myself, and that is an act of resistance. Twerking is speaking up.
What can people expect from your twerkshops?
Twerkshops are open source platforms to decolonize our ass, our womb, and our gaze. People that come to them are shaken - shaking your ass has an impact on your thoughts - empowered, moved, inspired, awoken. I am not exaggerating. Twerkshops are intense spaces of deep healing and realisation of the layers of mortiferous rigidity we're all dealing with in our hips, in our wombs, in our gut. When you twerk you discover the true centre of the body: a place that is transversal, beyond and across race, gender, age, class, ability, size, religion, etc. It is truly a democratically erotic space, where notions of sex and death and sacred and life go hand in hand, where binary orders lose their power. Although it is the centre of our body, the ass is still the margins in our current headspace; the 'ghetto of our body'. I think we need to reclaim the margins as a place of recreation and remapping. I believe the ghetto, the periphery, the margins, is where the voices that matter are raised.
Photography by Arno London, frames by Moshé