The Photographic Practice of Karen Knorr

“No space of representation without a subject, and no subject without a space it is not. No subject, therefore, without a boundary”. (Victor Burgin, In Different Spaces, Place & Memory in Visual Culture, University of California press, 1996: p52).

The work of Karen Knorr has developed intellectually and aesthetically at quite a speed since the mid 1980’s. Following an initial practice relating to social documentary, Knorr discovered a new area of investigation that went hand in hand with her natural curiosity, interest and knowledge of art theory and art history.

Museum and Medium: The Time of Karen Knorr’s Imagery

The encounter between two disciplines doesn’t take place when one begins to reflect on another, but when one discipline realises that it has to resolve, for itself and by its own means, a problem similar to one confronted by the other.

Gilles Deleuze¹

Like the mutilated classical statue, a photograph seems to result from the artwork’s encounter with a scythe of real time, showing the bruise imprinted upon an artwork by a clash with a time not its own.

Denis Hollier ²

Interview with Karen Knorr

Dans l’œuvre de Karen Knorr, l’animal est l’intermédiaire entre la nature et l’homme, tout à la fois intercesseur de la première et avatar surréel du second. Ses œuvres reflètent une mise en abîme critique de l’humanité à travers la forme métaphorique de la figure animalière. Si l’archétype animal en appelle aux couches profondes de l’instinct et de l’inconscience, il sert ici de support à un récit potentiel et codé de multiples références historiques et contemporaines qui circulent au sein des images et des titres qui les accompagnent, ainsi que dans la mémoire et la sensation du spectateur.

Dans une récente monographie, Antonio Guzman qualifie la démarche de Karen Knorr comme « un projet de la photographie comme une réécriture et un inter-texte dans la poursuite d’un programme allégorique » , au sens où l’entend Roland Barthes, c’est à dire « l’impossibilité de vivre hors du texte infini » (Le plaisir du texte).

The Thirsty Pigeon / Fables

A pigeon, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of water painted on a signboard. Not supposing it to be only a picture, she flew towards it with a loud whir and unwittingly dashed against the signboard, jarring herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow, she fell to the ground, and was caught by one of the bystanders. Zeal should not outrun discretion.¹

Fables are due for a revival. Short, pointed narratives, peopled with familiar animals and barbed with cruel morals, they explore the myriad facets of human vanity. They seem particularly well suited to our own era, with its decadent consumption, spectacularity, and highly developed taste for shadenfreude.