I can’t remember where it was that I first saw Karen Knorr’s work, but I was reminded of her at a Nerd Nite presentation on taxidermy back in November when the presenter brought up an image of Rachel Poliquin‘s book, The Breathless Zoo because one of Knorr’s pictures is on the cover (and again recently when I posted about Mikel Uribetxeberria).  I’m so surprised that her pictures haven’t made it onto this site yet!  Glad to add it now.

I feel like it is more apparent in some pictures than others, but the animals in Knorr’s photographs are added digitally, not taxidermy or live animals actually present in the spaces.  This project always makes me think of Francis Alÿs’ The Nightwatch, made by releasing a fox into London’s National Portrait Gallery and following its movement through the galleries using the museum’s CCTV system.

From a statement on the artist’s website: The usual aim of the fable is to teach a lesson by drawing attention to animal behaviour and its relationship to human actions and shortcomings. Animals in fables speak metaphorically of human folly, criticizing human nature. Yet it seems that the nature of Karen Knorr’s work has another aim. In Knorr’s “Fables”  the animals are not dressed up to resemble humans nor do they illustrate any explicit  moral. Liberated, they roam freely in human territory drawing [attention] to the unbridged gap between nature and culture. They encroach into the  domain of the museum and other cultural sanctuaries which resolutely forbids their entry.

The strangeness of this new series of Fables does not reside only in the disjunction between nature and culture. Karen Knorr playfully uses digital technology to mix the digital with the analogical. Analogue photography shot on large format cameras is combined with digital photographs of live and dead animals photographed in museum, zoos and nature reserves.The boundaries of the real are challenged by this hybrid. The spectator’s vision may become troubled by the incongruity of the animals photographed together.The intricate details of a shadow cast on a pillow, the shade of fine plumage, or the contour of a human thigh blur the boundaries between reality and illusion. Beyond the immediate seduction of the photographic images themselves, it is this ambiguity that gives them a particular force.

Visit artist's site: karenknorr.com