Tasveer and Vacheron Constantin are delighted to present the landmark photographic series, India Song, by London-based artist Karen Knorr.
This exhibition presents 30 new works from Karen Knorr’s India Song series, begun in 2008 on a trip to Rajasthan. The photographs pay homage to the beauty and power of Indian architectural spaces, especially Rajput and Mughal styles. Within the interiors of palaces, temples and tombs, we encounter a celebratory vision of colour and design. Remnants of a culturally rich era of high artistic production, these familiar sites take on a new, surreal role. They become the unexpected settings for a variety of animals – picked from sanctuaries, jungles and folkloric narratives of India. The animals act to transform the atmosphere of the interiors and in doing so blur the boundaries between reality and illusion - creating photographs of ambiguity, but also of majesty.
The architectural settings are captured with a large format analogue camera, while the animals are photographed separately and inserted using digital imaging – a very slow process is combined with a fast one. The resulting strangeness highlights the disjunction between nature and the cultural site. Knorr photographs the animals in zoos, sanctuaries and city streets. On her first visit to India she was fascinated by the close proximity of animals to humans, which whilst being a much more common site in India than the rest of the world, is fast becoming a fading spectacle.
Knorr celebrates both cultural heritage and wildlife, referencing the history of representing animals in Indian literature and art, from the Panchatantra to the miniature paintings of the Mughal court. Alongside this appreciation of India’s rich visual culture, Knorr also subtly examines issues surrounding upper caste culture and its relationship to the ‘other’. The animals are intruders, ordinarily forbade entry and their presence playfully subverts the cultural space. Working within a period of huge structural and social change in the country, Knorr challenges our vision of high culture and traces its genealogy from the Rajput era to today.