YEREVAN / OSLO — Painter, curator, performance artist, actor, director and choreographer Karen Nikgol was born in Teheran in 1983. His mother Odette Nikgol is a painter, animator and translator (see my interview with her in the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, November 19, 2019). Karen studied at the Arts University College at Bournemouth, England and Fine Arts University in Oslo; he also studied religion and philosophy. His work mixes cultural expressions and identities, combining contemporary dance, choreography, raves, street cultures, new age and occultism, creating direction and choreography on stage and in galleries that involve artists, dancers, martial arts practitioners, amateurs and writers. Karen has participated in more than 25 group exhibitions around the world, and his solo exhibitions have opened in Spain, Denmark, Italy, Norway and the United States. Karen works at the Oslo Museum of Contemporary Art, observing Norwegian cultural life. He shot a short film, Empowerment (2017) and acted in two films in Norway and UK. In 2017 Karen Nikgol won Oslo Prize for art of the year for his exhibition “Empowerment.” He is the co-founder of the artist run space Noplace, in Oslo.
Karen, I have watched videos of some of your performances online. I think they belong to those types of art that people can interpret in different ways and they all will be right and wrong. Your works can be characterized as being erotic, mystical, eccentric. What is the main message you send through your art?
Yes, my art is often open to interpretation. In stage productions, I have a general narrative that is often told, but not necessarily as an understandable narrative, like a dream open source for analysis. Hence I like to give the view more of an experience, than anything. That might be the message.
When the Norwegian royal family visited the Museum of Modern Art, you were entrusted to explain the exhibition. How was it to be guide for a king and queen?
It was ok – more police guards than normal, but besides that it was fun.
Recently a Russian dance specialist said that everybody with ideas is able to direct a choreographic play.