“Another Way of Telling” showcases almost 100 works from the rich, dynamic careers of Anna Fox and Karen Knorr, two leading documentary photographers in the UK. In their work, acerbic wit is brought to sharp social commentary on subjects that are seen through two highly individual perspectives that wrap in a warm dose of humor the photographers’ penetrating insight into the issues of our times. The exhibition includes selections from representative themes in each of their bodies of work. Additionally, it features entire series that represent photo essays on the subject of class, working environments, and self-awareness, presented from distinct, alternative perspectives. Fine examples are Anna Fox’s two series Work Stations, and Basingstoke, displayed in contrast to Karen Knorr’s series titled Belgravia, all of which highlight the gulf in class attitudes. Karen Knorr’s Punks, produced together with Swiss photographer Olivier Richon, documented the first generation of the punk music movement in the UK in the mid-1970s.
In her more recent work, Karen Knorr constructs scenes for her photographs from the real and virtual worlds to produce the series Fables and India Song. In her recent work, Anna Fox continues to explore stereotypes that have become entrenched in lifestyle magazines, that underscore contemporary aspirations, both British in specific, and by example in today’s ubiquitous consumer-driven world. As described by British photo critic Sean O’Hagan, her ‘subject matter is the ordinary and the everyday,’ but what makes the resulting images striking is how she ‘approaches it with an artist’s eye for the absurd and the revealing.’ Through these works we see the photographers’ thinking about culture, gender, environment, and nature.
Since the late 1970s, there has been a volume of activity in the field of documentary photography in the UK, which both builds upon and stands as a reaction to the documentary tradition. Photography played an incisive part in constructing a British documentary movement from the mid 20th-century, that began in 19th-century realist literature (for example, Charles Dickens, George Eliot), soon extended to film (figures like John Grierson) and, in time, to television. The spirit of questioning and re-invention that characterized the particular period of New, or Expanded Documentary that emerged from the 1980s, was new in that it began to draw on strategies from contemporary art, primarily in its questioning and play with notions of authenticity and truth. That play, in terms of the mix of carefully observed reality and consciously constructed illusions, is embodied in the work of Anna Fox and Karen Knorr, described here as ‘another way of telling’.
About the exhibition
Dates: September 19, 2018 – November 18, 2018
Venue: Shanghai Center of Photography
Courtesy of the artists and SCoP, for further information please visit www.scop.org.cn.