Karen Knorr

Karen Knorr’s project Belgravia was inspired by the ideas of Roland Barthes on the different possibilities of the relationship between image and text. These series deals with themes of social class and wealth in British Society. My commentary is on the use of the text.

Belgravia by Karen Knorr

Knorr uses a square format for her photos in both series. The photo is placed quite high on the page with lots of white space below for the text. Her text is centred between the margins of the image and the style of capitalising random words in the sentences also harks back to Dickensian times, emphasizing the stuffiness and pretentiousness being conveyed in the images.

‘Belgravia’ was her reply to intellectual debates of the 1970’s, to what was subsequently called ‘political representation’.

L’Oeil de la Photographie (2016)

Gentlemen was shot gentlemen’s clubs in central London with accompanying text taken from speeches in parliament and the news. These gentlemen’s clubs were closed to women who were only allowed to enter by invitation. According to the men who belonged to these clubs, this is where the real business was discussed.

The club became a symbolic space reflecting the ideology of power exerted by men, as representatives of a privileged class.

L’Oeil de la Photographie (2016)

Gentlemen by Karen Knorr

Gentlemen, which was made in the 1980’s during the Thatcher government, investigates the patriarchal values of English upper class society. “The commentaries  contain obvious allusions to English literature from the days of the British Empire” (L’Oeil de la Photographie, 2016). Certain haughty and pedantic tones are conveyed in the captions of Gentlemen which reflect the surroundings of the subjects in this series.

Once more I can see how crucial the choice of words and text layout is to the presentation of the work. Knorr has used quite a formal and slightly old-fashioned layout for her work to be in keeping with her subject matter. This format would be totally out of place in Helen Maurene Cooper’s Painted and Polished.

Reference List

L’Oeil de la Photographie (2016). Moscow PhotoBiennale 2016: Karen Knorr [online] L’Oeil de la Photographie. Available at: http://www.loeildelaphotographie.com/en/2016/04/15/article/159899873/moscow-photobiennale-2016-karen-knorr/ [Accessed 12 May, 2017]



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