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Frith Street Gallery, Golden Square
For Dayanita Singh photography is simply a starting point rather than an end in itself. Her work constantly pushes the boundaries of the form, examining how we might exhibit and thereby think about the photographic image. Most notable are her experiments in bookmaking as well as her portable ‘museums’; large wooden structures that can be placed and opened in various configurations, each holding varying numbers of images within what she has termed “photo-architecture.”
Museum of Shedding is even more emphatically architectural than Singh’s previous Museums. It is a space that we can imagine the curator of the museum occupying. There is a bed, a desk, a bench, a table, a stool, and storage for the museum’s collection. This collection, drawn from Singh’s archive, consists of black and white photographs of architecture. Some of these spaces are ancient, some contemporary, but they are all linked by an austere, pared down beauty. The gallery walls display some of the images as well as a number of empty storage boxes, suggesting endless possibilities for display, sequencing and editing. Museum of Shedding is a meditative work that ruminates on the artist’s relationship to photography, to the archive and to her own practice as a kind of “home.”
Shown alongside this is a series of colour photographs entitled Time Measures. These particular images are the latest to have emerged from Singh’s long-term interest in the paper archive. She discovered these bundles of fabric-wrapped documents in an archive in India. The bundles themselves are of indeterminate age, their contents are unknown. At some stage these papers were wrapped in red cotton fabric, placed on shelves and then forgotten. Every bundle is tied by a different hand with a different knot to seal it. Over the years these stacked bundles have faded and become compressed. The knots, in combination with the forms and faded colours, gives them very tangible personalities, turning each image into a singular portrait.
Dayanita Singh was born in 1961. She studied Visual Communication at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the International Center of Photography in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include: Museum of Machines: Photographs, Projections, Volumes, MAST, Bologna, 2016, Conversation Chambers: Museum Bhavan, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi, 2015, Go Away Closer, MMK, Frankfurt and Hayward Touring, 2014, and the German Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia, 2013. In December 2016 she will have a solo exhibition at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. Dayanita Singh lives and works in New Delhi.
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