In her intriguing series Gentlemen, Karen Knorr takes us inside the hallowed halls of the most venerable private gentlemen’s clubs of 1980s London, and considers the patriarchal values of the English upper classes with beautifully precise photographs and texts constructed out of speeches of parliament and the news at that time.
The series of 26 images and texts investigates the values that ally these classes to conservative aristocratic values where primogeniture (the right by law of the firstborn son to inherit his parent’s estate, in preference to daughters) is still an issue. Until the early 1970s, a married women still needed her husband’s endorsement for any household purchases. Whilst women now have full property rights, they still remain under-represented in key positions of governance and in financial and academic worlds. It is still a boy's club in which some women are honorary members.
Karen explains: "I wanted to make work that used humour to explore attitudes prevalent amongst the English establishment in the 1980s. Despite being Prime Minister and head of the Conservative party, Margaret Thatcher as a woman was not allowed full membership at the Conservative Gentlemen’s club ‘The Carlton'. Old Etonians, like David Cameron, have belonged to such Gentlemen’s clubs. It is in these clubs that behind the scene influence is still used to influence politics and business."
Now Karen's photographic works will soon be available in a book – Gentlemen will be published this September by STANLEY/BARKER in collaboration with Eric Franck Fine Art. Pre-order your copy now.
Via direct submission | All images courtesy of Karen Knorr