June 13, 2013

Guest Post: Karen Knorr’s India Song

There are qualities of a culture that rise to the surface, forming first breaths and first impressions. Each time I return to India, I quickly appreciate the delicate gradation of life. There is a sense of acceptance that even the sun seems to imbue; though after enough time I’m reminded of the inherent duality of this virtue.

The acceptance of tradition and hierarchy stubbornly seeps into, and burns the workings of a woman’s every day. Sullen stares rush out from the shadows, bringing with them a lack of regard, the persistence of fear, and the irony of female divinity stifling rather than empowering our mothers and grandmothers.

It’s hardly possible to wake up these days without being reminded of the generosity of female oppression. Some of us carry a lighter loader, while others have lost their lives so that society is urged to question the current state of authority.

When I first came across Karen Knorr’s photography below, I was struck by the beauty, blissfully unaware of the conflicting story underlying the series’ architecture. Knorr took to the Mughal and Rajput palaces, havelis and mausoleums to capture the relationship between the upper caste and “the other” through large format analogue photography. The series highlights “men’s space (mardana) and women’s space (zanana)” through the consideration of  “caste, femininity and its relationship to the animal world.” The digitally placed animals serve to represent the transmigration of historic female characters, such as Sita and Amrita, now challenging the modern male hierarchy.


Knorr was influenced to create this series not only by the many “recent, terrible stories of women’s vulnerability” but also by her love for India, its people and its timeless myths. It’s this conflict of interests that I myself struggle with, and Knorr’s series provoked me to question my own level of loyalty and acceptance.





The author of this post, Anu Rana, is an experimental, mental gypsy of sorts; She tries to exercise her freedom through travel, copy, art, poetry and photography.  She also collects global creativity and stories, and share them on Mangopopsicle.org and LookListenIntuition.com. Twitter: @MangoPopsicle 
Here  is her previous blog post.

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