Karen Knorr’s India Song

‘India Song’, a new book by acclaimed photographer Karen Knorr (sister-in-law of Cheryl Knorr of The House Directory!) presents some extraordinary images of animals in stunning architectural sites in India. Karen Knorr began her ‘India Song’ series in 2008, after a life-changing trip through Rajasthan. She takes inspiration from the Indian tradition of personifying animals in literature and art, depicting scenarios that are at once otherworldly and surreal. Knorr’s work explores Rajput and Mughal cultural heritage and its contemporary relationship to questions of feminine subjectivity and animality.

The Flight to Freedom, Durbar Hall, Juna Mahal, Dungarpur

The Maharaja’s Apartment, Udaipur City Palace, Udaipur

Avatars of Devi, Samode Palace, Samode

The Queen’s Room, Zanana Palace, Udaipur

The Private Audience, Aam Khas, Juna Mahal, Dungarpur

The Conqueror of the World, Podar Haveli, Nawalgarh

The Witness, Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

A Place like Amravati 2, Udaipur City Palace, Udaipur

Karen Knorr celebrates the rich visual culture, myths and stories of northern India, focusing on Rajasthan and using sacred and secular sites to consider caste, femininity and its relationship to the animal world. Interiors are painstakingly photographed with a large format Sinar P3 analogue camera and scanned to very high resolution. Live animals are inserted into the architectural sites, fusing high resolution digital with analogue photography. Animals photographed in sanctuaries, zoos and cities inhabit palaces, mausoleums , temples and holy sites, 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.

Knorr was born in Frankfurt au Main, Germany, and was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the 1960s, completing her education in Paris and London. She has taught, exhibited, and lectured internationally and is currently Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey.

Karen Knorr’s India Song, with a preface by William Dalrymple, essay by Christopher Pinney, and interview by Rosa Maria Falvo, is published by Skira at £30, and available to buy from www.karenknorr.com

And you can see more of Karen Knorr’s work in Tate Britain’s BP Spotlight: Karen Knorr, which runs until 4 October 2015. This display brings together two series of her work: Belgravia 1979–81 and Gentlemen 1981–83, which form part of the Eric and Louise Franck London Collection. The series combine both image and text and explores patriarchal values in the upper middle classes and the  lifestyle of a privileged minority living in one of the most affluent parts of London.

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