Dayanita Singh

1961 | New Delhi, India
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Indian photographer.

After studying visual communication at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, then photojournalism and documentary photography at the International Center of Photography of New York, Dayanita Singh worked for several magazines. Weary of describing social problems and anxious to free herself from the clichés linked to India, she abandoned this genre in 1992 to devote herself to portraits of urban, economically privileged, westernised families, who evolve in a closed world still little documented, but which she knew well. These images were published in 2003 under the title Privacy. Two years earlier her photos had already illustrated a book by Mona Ahmed (Myself Mona Ahmed, 2001), a eunuch she met in 1989 and photographed for thirteen years. Her early 21st-century photographs are about memory, a journey between place and time.

Thanks to a grant, the artist travelled extensively. In Calcutta, she photographed empty chairs and beds. In Boston, Venice and the South of India, she realised “portraits of furniture”: she constructed images around portraits and personal effects of the disappeared. Sent a Letter (2007) assembled her works – or “journals” – linked to her own story and to that of India in the form of seven small accordion books. Here as elsewhere, she refuted any notion of Indian-ness and invited the spectator to get lost and to give free rein to interpretation in her untitled and undated shots. A timeless character can be found in the series Dream Villa (2007-2008) or in her industrial landscapes, Blue Book (2008), which are experimental images in which she abandoned black and white to “learn to speak in colour”.

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Judith Ferlicchi

Translated from French by Katia Porro.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Dayanita Singh — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dayanita Singh, Dear Mr. Walter – Mona and Myself (for Parkett no. 95), 2014, Matted archival pigment print in artist’s frame, 47.5 x 62.5 x 3.5 cm, © MoMA, © Dayanita Singh

Dayanita Singh — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dayanita Singh, Sumona Ghosh, 1999, gelatin silver photograph, 59.7x 60.7 cm, NGA © Dayanita Singh

Dayanita Singh — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dayanita Singh, Museum of Industrial Kitchens, 2016-2017, photographic installation, teck structure, 31 digital pigment ink prints, Centre national des arts plastiques, © Rights reserved / Cnap, © Photo : Fabrice Lindor

Dayanita Singh — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dayanita Singh, Museum of Industrial Kitchens, 2016-2017, photographic installation, teck structure, 31 digital pigment ink prints, Centre national des arts plastiques, © Rights reserved / Cnap, © Photo : Fabrice Lindor

Dayanita Singh — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dayanita Singh, Museum of Industrial Kitchens, 2016-2017, photographic installation, teck structure, 31 digital pigment ink prints, Centre national des arts plastiques, © Rights reserved / Cnap, © Photo : Fabrice Lindor

Dayanita Singh — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dayanita Singh, House of Love, 2011, set of 40 C-Type prints, displayable in four configuration, not calling for the same amount of pictures, © Dayanita Singh, © Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Georges Meguerditchian

Dayanita Singh — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dayanita Singh, House of Love, 2011, set of 40 C-Type prints, displayable in four configuration, not calling for the same amount of pictures, © Dayanita Singh, © Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Georges Meguerditchian

Dayanita Singh — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dayanita Singh, House of Love, 2011, set of 40 C-Type prints, displayable in four configuration, not calling for the same amount of pictures, © Dayanita Singh, © Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Georges Meguerditchian

Dayanita Singh — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Dayanita Singh, File Room, 2011, Inkjet prints, 38 x 38 cm, private collection, © Dayanita Singh

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