'I gather hundreds of photographs, edit them ruthlessly and then sequence them. By then the form presents itself.'
Dayanita Singh (b. 1961, New Delhi) uses photography to reflect and expand on the ways in which we relate to images. Her recent works, drawn from her extensive photographic oeuvre, are a series of mobile museums that allow her images to be edited, sequenced, archived and displayed. Stemming from Singh’s interest in the archive, the museums present her photographs as interconnected bodies of work that are replete with both poetic and narrative possibilities. Museum of Chance (2013), for instance, may at one moment exist as two immense pillars while at another it could fold out into flat screens, transforming into a single room in which visitors may sit at tables and converse. Recently, the museums have evolved into the singular pillar form, consisting of five cubes that can pack flat, accompanied by a stool. The modular design of Bawa Rocks (2021) allows for the rearrangement of the stackable cubes and the swapping of photographs. The images themselves reflect Singh’s love of the architecture of Geoffrey Bawa (1919–2013): ‘I went to [Bawa’s] Kandalama Hotel and I recognised it. I recognised the aesthetic, knew the light’. Singh has continued to reconceptualise architecture in a new series of Montages, which seamlessly splice together images from diverse spaces to create phantastic yet plausible settings.
Publishing is also a significant part of the artist’s practice: in her books, often published without text, Singh extends her experiments on alternate forms of producing and viewing photographs. She says, ‘the book is at the heart of my work. To me, the exhibition is the catalogue of the works in the book’.