Dayanita Singh was born in New Delhi in 1961 and studied at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and the International Center of Photography in New York.
Singh’s exhibitions include those at the Serpentine Gallery in London, Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the Hayward Gallery in London, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt. In 2013 Singh represented Germany at the Venice Biennale.
Publishing is a significant part of the artist’s practice: in her books, often made in collaboration with Gerhard Steidl, she experiments with alternate forms of producing and viewing photographs.
Singh’s books with Steidl include Privacy (2004), Go Away Closer (2007), Sent a Letter (2008), Dream Villa (2010), File Room (2013), Museum of Chance (2014) and Museum Bhavan, which was Book of the Year at the 2017 Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards.
(1) Book Building I A conversation between Dayanita Singh, Monte Packham and Gerhard Steidl (Youtube)
(2) Dayanita Singh – ‘I Use Photography to Transform Space’ | TateShots (Youtube)
The book is well known as Dayanita Singh’s primary medium, one she explores to create new relationships between photography, publishing, the exhibition and the museum. But where did her passion for the book as the ideal vessel for her photos, for the stories she tells, begin?
The answer lies in Zakir Hussain, a handmade maquette Singh crafted in 1986 as her first project as a graphic design student. The protagonist of Singh’s photo essay is the Indian classical tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, whom she captured on the stage and at home with his family. Surrounding the photos are handwritten texts gleaned from interviews Singh made with her sitters, including insights from Hussain.
This Steidl facsimile edition is scanned from Singh’s original maquette and reproduces all its “imperfections” and idiosyncrasies including her pencilled notes about the book’s construction.