Karen Knorr


Karen Knorr was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the 1960s. She finished her education in Paris and London. Karen has taught and lectured internationally at the University of Westminster, Goldsmiths College, Harvard and The Art Institute of Chicago. Karen Knorr studied at the University of Westminster in the mid-1970s, exhibiting photography that addressed debates in cultural studies and film theory concerning the “politics of representation” practices which emerged during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Karen Knorr is Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts at Farnham, Surrey.

Her photography in India so far pays homage to the extraordinary beauty and power of Rajput and Mughal architecture and the hybrid cultures represented in stories that are written and represented in miniature paintings, sculptures found in temples, palaces, havelis and mausoleums, and also folk and tribal art. 'India Song' is inspired by the ideas of power that underlie cultural heritage. The series celebrates the rich visual culture evident in the myths and stories of northern India mainly Rajasthan, using sacred and secular sites to highlight caste, femininity and its relationship with the animal world.

She considers men’s space (mardana) and women’s space (zanana) in Mughal and Rajput architecture, be it palaces, havelis or mausoleums. These interiors are photographed with a large format Sinar P3 analogue camera. Live animals are inserted into the architectural sites, fusing high resolution digital with analogue photography. The animals photographed in sanctuaries, zoos and cities, inhabit these heritage spaces interrogating Indian cultural heritage and rigid hierarchies. Cranes, zebus, langurs, tigers and elephants mutate from princely pets to avatars of past feminine historic characters, blurring boundaries between reality and illusion and reinventing the Panchatantra for the 21st century.

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