Text Block (15)

When visiting the Tate Britain, I saw the work of photographer Karen Knorr. The artist was born in Germany but was raised in San Juan Puerto Rico in the 1960s. She finished her education in Paris and London.
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. 
Belgravia is still a cosmopolitan and rich neighbourhood in London with many non-domiciled residents. Knorr's parents lived in Belgravia and the first image of the series is a photograph of her mother and grandmother in the front room of their “maisonette” on Lowndes Square. Knorr states that the photographs are not about individuals but about a group of people and their ideas during a particular time in history. They are “non-potrtraits” in that they do not aim to flatter or to show the “truth” of these people.This is reinstated by the anonymity of the photographs.
The work describes the ‘everyday’ of a privileged minority. Traditionally, portraiture of the upper classes has tended to be flattering, however buy combining text the works seem satirical and resemble caricatures, despite this the strong reality effect specific to photography is not lost.

"The meaning of the work can be found in the space between image and text: neither text nor image illustrate each other, but create a 'third meaning' to be completed by the spectator."

The text slows down the viewing process as we study the scriptand return to re-evaluate the image in light of what we have read.There are key words capitalised and words from conversations are broken up and laid out on the surface of the photographic paper emphasizing its constructed and ironic nature.

I was drawn to 'Belgravia' by the stunning documentation of lavish interior spaces and I felt that it was relevant to my project since I was exploring the representation of opulence.

© Connie Elizabeth Burlton, all rights reserved