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, exhibited and lectured internationally, including at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The University of Westminster, Goldsmiths, Harvard and The Art Institute of Chicago. She 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 qnd early 1980s. She is currently Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey.
Karen Knorr produced Belgravia (1979-1981) a series of black and white photographs with ironic and humorous texts that highlighted aspirations, lifestyle and the British class system under the neo liberalist Thatcher era in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Her most well known work called Gentlemen (1981-1983) was photographed in Saint James’s clubs in London and investigated the patriarchal conservative values of Britain during the Falklands war. Karen ’s work developed a critical and playful dialogue with documentary photography using different visual and textual strategies to explore her chosen subject matter that ranges from the family and lifestyle to the animal and its representation in the museum context.
In 1986 her work Connoisseurs used colour to explore connoisseurship regarding authenticity, heritage and art in England. Here she introduced elements and staged events in the architectural interiors of Chiswick House, Osterley Park House and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The use of text and captioning appeared as a device to slow down consumption of the image and to comment on the received ideas of fine art in museum culture. These strategies still appear in her photography today with digital collage of animals, objects and social actors in museums and architecture challenging the authority and power of heritage sites in Europe and more recently in India.
Academies (1994- 2001), a series of colour photographs taken in academies and museums across Europe, reflects on the relationship between the production of western fine art, its transmission and consumption. The work continues a critical dialogue with conceptual art, visual culture, feminism and animal studies reflecting an engaged interest in theory and its relation to photographic practice. In 1995 the Academies project included video and installation with wall text transfers in order the explore the relationship between art and science in the staging of transgressive performative events and gestures in museums. Being for Another (1995), an 18 minute video records a young man caressing an 18th century sculpture by Canova in the Victoria and Albert Museum and three lifeclass models enact the lifeclass on the dissecting table of the anatomy theatre of Uppsala University in Lessons (2002). The introduction of a sound glass sculpture with recorded birdsong responded to the furniture and art collection of The Wallace Collection in 2001 synthesizing a 1960’s Pete Seeger song with an actual blackbird’s sound.
In her series Fables (2004-2008) photographs mixes analogue and digital photography playfully reconfiguring tales (Ovid, Aesop La Fontaine) with popular culture (Disney and Attenborough) in museums and heritage sites which include Carnavalet Museum, the Museum of Hunt and Nature in Paris, Chambord Castle and the Conde Museum in Chantilly Castle. The visuality of these photographs is rich with reference to the baroque. In the last section of the work, Knorr interrogated the free flowing space of modern architecture in Corbusier’s Villa Savoye reintroducing life into the modernist aesthetic of a building. Page updated on November 28th, 2012
Since her life changing journey to Rajasthan, India in 2008, Karen Knorr’s work is now exploring Rajput and Mughal cultural heritage and its relationship to questions of feminine subjectivity and animality. India Song, a series of carefully crafted photographs explores the past and its relation to India’s contemporary heritage sites across Rajasthan.
Education & teaching
.05 Lecturer in Contemporary Photographic Practice at London College of Printing School of Media, on the B.A. Hons Photography Course
I acquired experience teaching on foundation level and years 1, 2, 3 on the B.A. Hons. Photography course. I was an active member of the course committee and validation processes. I was third Year Tutor and deputy Course Leader in 1992 responsible for assessment procedures and the curating of the final year show . I left in order to concentrate on my practice and to teach in Stockholm, Sweden
Visiting professor at The National University College of Art and Design, Konstfack, Stockholm , Sweden
I was invited by Hans Hedberg and Jan Eric Lundstrom (Head curator of photography at the Photografiska Museet) to teach students in The Academy of Photography at the Konstfack.
I led tutorial groups and seminars and developed the theoretical aspect of the course.The students and I developed a critical practice beyond the parameters of what was originally a technical and vocational course addressed to editorial and advertising photographers.
Full-time Course Leader of M.A.. in Photographic Studies at The University of Derby, School of Art & Design
My responsibilities included admissions tutor, tutoring,( leading tutorial groups and seminars) lecturing and monitoring students progress, academic course development for the post graduate theory and practice modules on the M.A. which run full time and part time. Additionally I was coordinator of the final year exhibition and wrote the annual programme report. Adaptation of course to modularisation.
I also taught on the undergraduate B.A. Hons. course year two and three. I left in order to concentrate on my practice .
.05 Senior Lecturer B.A.. Fine Arts , Goldsmiths College
As Convenor Group Leader I was responsible for the monitoring of three tutors and 40 students in the convenor groups, their continuous assessment.
Participation in weekly staff curriculum development meetings leading up to the National QAA assessment in 2000.
Postgraduate tutoring on the M.A. in Fine Art.
Visiting Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of Westminster and the Surrey Institute ( UCA)
I became a visiting tutor one day a week at Goldsmiths College in order to concentrate on my fine art practice .I took on additional teaching as a part-time postgraduate tutor on the Photographic Studies course at the University of Westminster and the Surrey Institute where I taught on the Post graduate and undergraduate photography courses.
I led a week workshop for 10 students in the Photography Course Centre d’Enseignement Professional, Vevey ( otherwise known as Vevey Shool of Photography)
Proposed as a workshop the construction of “The Everyday and the Photographic “. Students were asked to document their lives, present aseries of photographs and to produce a description of their work in the form of a written statement.
Visiting part time Tutor, Convenor Group Leader in Fine Art, Goldsmiths and part time lecturer
B.A. Photography, Surrey Institute and University of Westminster( M.A.)
Visiting Lecturer 1980- 2005
Kent Institute of Art And Design, Westminster University, Fine Art Academy at Valenciennes, Fine Art Academy at Nantes, Goldsmiths College, Lund University,Gothenberg University, Uppsala University, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Sheffield University, Exeter University, Derby University,Central Saint Martins, Winnipeg Museum, Sir John Cass,Byam Shaw,University of Westminster, University of Brighton.Slade School of Art, The Bournemouth Institute, The Art Institute, Chicago, Harvard University
A member of the exam jury for the fine art course in Geneva, Switzerland
External Examiner for B.A. Photography at the Surrey Institute
External Examiner for Mohini Chandra at the Royal College of Art, Thesis:
Pacific Album:Memory,Diaspora and the Visual
External Examiner for Middlesex University for the B.A Hons Photography – AKTO
External Examiner for Jo- Anne Duggan at the University of Technology, Sydney,
Doctorate in Creative Arts
Thesis: Beyond the Surface: The Contemporary Experience of the Italian Renaissance
Consultant for joint B.A. Hons Photography course document at Roehampton University
Currently .02 Senior Lecturer at UCA , Farnham , Photography undergraduate and postgradute
Lead supervisor for Isla Cunningham Mphil : Photographing Alice: Young Women through the Looking Glass Updated on October 4th, 2009