Interview with Henrik Koppen
August 2017, Norangsdalen, Sunnmøre
Q: Why / when / how did you start to work with performance, what is your background, how did you arrive at doing performance?
As a kid I often played with my younger siblings in the forest, creating our own little tribe, collecting different materials and inventing various rituals. I guess I had a shaman-like role. I have a similar approach to working with performance art now, I like to create an alternative reality that I can invite the audience into, and to transform the mood of the crowd. It is closely connected to play and a way of exploring the world.
When I started my art education in Rogaland School of Art I wanted to focus on painting, but ended up exhibiting a video installation showing documentation of performance art and a live performance of my graduation show. There was a lot of a-ha moments in those years, so many impulses and (for me) new ways of thinking.
Q: Can you tell about your latest project?
One of the first works that comes to mind among my latest projects is the audio play I made together with Finn Adrian Jorkjen last December. It was a humorous and dystopic christmas calendar in which we released an episode each day of December as a podcast. We often make these very large projects where we mash up elements of pop culture, mythology and religion. This was right after Trump was elected, and everyone had the feeling that the world was falling apart, so it was a good timing for a gloomy audio play.
Q: What role does performance art have in your life / artistic praxis? Do you also work within other fields, like installation, sculpture, drawing, and other expressions? How do they influence / inform each other?
I have been playing the piano since I was eight years old, so for me performing is very much connected to music and sound. I often collaborate with improvising musicians where I do an improvised performance or am VJ-ing with a library of videos. I sometimes use glass bottles or small mirror pieces in front of the projector, turning the images into abstract, smoke like light phenomenons on the wall. I treat the projector like a prepared instrument while the musicians play. It allows me to interact with them in a more fluid and intuitive way. In my solo practice I often work with objects or sculptures. Most of my works change
over time, I find the static boring. I want all of my artworks to have some movement or some action, I want them to perform. I find it comforting that everything has the potential to become fluid, even continents float around on magma, and mountains are dismantling themselves or growing. We see processes like decomposition, erosion and melting which makes us conscious about time. I collect natural materials that I find outside and use them in performances that work
as an encounter with the materiality of the world. It is a way of exploring the potential in the things which are available right outside of our doorstep, and to get connected to something bigger.