Dayanita Singh: File Museum
With a practice based in photography, Dayanita Singh explores how the viewer encounters an image and continuously experiments with new ways to show photographs in book form or as ‘photographic architecture’.
This show features a single structure composed of 140 photographs. The structure may be presented in a number of different configurations according to its situation and is, in many ways, a new form akin to a book or museum. For File Museum the piece will be composed of photographs depicting document archives – ranging from the unexpected to the ordinary in their subject matter – in different locations throughout India.
File Museum is an elegy to paper in the age of the digitization of information and knowledge. The analogue photographer and bookmaker has a unique relationship with paper that is integral not only to the work of making images, texts and memories, but also to a larger confrontation with chaos, mortality and disorder in the labyrinths of working bureaucratic archives in a country of more than a billion people. The endless rows of files in Indian courts, municipal offices, state archives and other such institutions for the conservation of human data create monuments to knowledge and to the arts of memory. They have their own atmosphere and architecture, rooted both in history and in the present. Archivists spend their lives organizing and conserving these forests of paper; historians and scholars forage in them for voices from the past; and the lives of ordinary men and women get entangled in the bureaucratic and litigious systems with their own copiousness of paperwork and files.
Dayanita Singh is one of the artists chosen to show in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2013. Singh was born in Delhi in 1961. Recent solo exhibitions of her work include: Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden and The Inigo Rooms, Kings College, London, both 2012. Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo, 2011. Fundacíon Mapfre, Madrid, Huis Marseille, Amsterdam both 2010.