ADAA ART SHOW – NOVEMBER 3 - 7
For the ADAA Art Show 2021, Danziger Gallery is pleased to present a solo booth of photographs by Karen Knorr - a 21st century bestiary showcasing a selection of her constructed animal pictures taken in India between 2003 and 2021.
While Knorr’s images take some of their inspiration from the Indian tradition of personifying animals in literature and art, there is another almost subconscious strain to her work. We humans are unique in our drive to create and engage with the arts. Going back to the earliest cave paintings we see that these early visual artists not only recorded their lives and surroundings, but used art to express themselves. The depiction of animals in symbolic and powerful ways and the urge to create these images with the best tools at hand is a line stretching from these unnamed cave painters to Karen Knorr. So if we define human experience by the culture we create, Knorr’s animals gift us with a unique and original expression of what it means to be human, and to see optimism and beauty in art.
Knorr’s “India Song” pictures have received serious recognition. Her work was given a solo exhibition at Tate Britain in 2015. And four of the pictures were exhibited at The Getty Museum’s 2019 exhibition on Bestiaries where Knorr was one of only two contemporary artists included in the show.
As Knorr points out, the usual aim of both bestiaries and fables is to teach a lesson by drawing attention to animal behavior and its relationship to human actions and shortcomings. In this context animals traditionally speak metaphorically of human folly, criticizing human nature. Yet in Knorr’s universe, the animals are liberated from narrative constraints, roaming freely in human territory, and drawing attention to the un-bridged gap between nature and culture. Knorr’s subjects encroach into the domain of temples and palaces, showing us the incommensurable distance between two worlds: raw nature on the one hand and on the other the cultural site which allows nature entry only in the form of a representation.
Playfully combining technologies and genres, Knorr mixes digital and analogue, architectural and nature photography. At the same time, her work engages with examining issues of power that underlie cultural heritage - a theme of her work that lies subtly under the visual richness and inventiveness of her images.
Knorr's photographs satisfy many of the requisites of traditional photography which address the surface
appearance of a species or place, but then move to a paradoxical space where they begin to question the
overt assumptions of the picture’s content. The boundaries of the real are thus challenged both by this hybrid process and also by the incongruity of the scenes.
Karen Knorr was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, raised in San Juan Puerto Rico, and educated in Paris and London. She has lived in England since the 1970s creating a large body of work that has developed a critical and playful dialogue with photography. Her work has been shown globally with recent museum exhibitions at the Pompidou Museum, Paris ((2016 ); MultiMedia Museum, Moscow (2016); and Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock, UK (2018). Her work is collected worldwide and can be found in the collections of MFAH, Texas; SFOMA; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Pompidou, Paris; Tate London; and Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan.