Karen Knorr, Transmigrations


Transmigrations refers to both displacement and reincarnation as well as to the migration of souls to an afterlife. In this age of climate change and of great migrations to come, where will our wildlife reside? Will the situation lead to a redefinition of living space in favour of the natural world and the displaced tribes?

Animals appear in Knorr’s photographs as signifiers of a radical alterity, or “ otherness”, representing the vulnerable, displaced, and rejected. Animals in two series (India Song, Metamorphoses), set in Indian and European interiors, are the principal actors in a perpetual conflict between nature and culture. Humans are now both perpetrators and victims of the oncoming horrors of our warming earth.

The heritage culture in India is imbued with Hindu myth and narratives from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the great Indian narratives. Yet these narratives—like the western Christian narratives of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus)—incorporate subjugated creatures that include women, tribals, and wildlife forever trapped in caste systems with the white male human at the apex of the hierarchy.

Wild and taxidermy animals are photographed separately in their environments or a studio, then placed digitally in palace or museum interiors that that evoke memories of European and Indian cultural heritage. The animal acts as a disruptor and challenger of the power engendered by these sites. Knorr has been working since the 1990’s using digital photography to contest power and privilege, creating a new visual language that combines beauty and social critique.

In her first one-artist show in the UK since her Tate Britain exhibition Belgravia and Gentlemen in 2014, Augusta Edwards Fine Art will be featuring a selection of her recent and past work including India Song, Metamorphoses, and Fables, large-scale colour work using compositing and digital montage. Knorr’s work is shown worldwide. Her most recent exhibition includes Masculinitiescurated by Alona Pardo at the Barbican, and presently in Rencontres, Arles. Her work can be found at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Tate, London, and Georges Pompidou, Paris. Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts, Karen Knorr, HFRPS, is an advocate for women in photography and on the steering committee of Fast Forward Women in Photography https://fastforward.photography During 2020-21, Knorr has been selling small-scale special editions on Artist support Pledge to raise funding for charities including Black Lives Matter and Give India.