Dayanita Singh – The Adventures of a Photographer

Medha Kapur of Saffronart shares a note on Dayanita Singh, one of India’s most influential photographers

Mumbai: An artist best known for her photographs, Dayanita Singh lives and works in New Delhi and now also is partly based in Goa. Born in 1961, Singh attended the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and the International Center of Photography in New York. Most of her works are in black-and-white, though of late she has also delved deeper into colour photography. Singh is best known for her portraits and interior views of Indian domestic life, especially urban middle and upper class families. Her works have been exhibited extensively, including galleries in Rome, New York, Berlin, London, Milan, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Boston.

Singh has a deep understanding, creating unimaginable images and continuously reinventing her photographs, in the way that language reinvents words. Her works include a photographic series documenting the tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, and Ladies of Saligao, a series in which she photographed women from the village in Goa where she lived. Another significant series is Singh’s documentation of her close friend, Mona Ahmed. Singh photographically mapped Mona’s intimate life, her adopted daughter, her banishment from the community of eunuchs she belonged to as a result of her alcoholism, and her eventual illegal activities in a cemetery, for a period of 13 years.  Singh has documented several other subjects as well, tracking their complex and difficult lives, and developing symbiotic relationship with them, as well as with the medium of photography.

Zakir Hussain (1986)

Zakir Hussain (1986)
Image courtesy


Image Courtesy

Singh has published nine books of her photographs: Zakir Hussain (1986), Myself, Mona Ahmed (2001), Privacy (2003), Chairs (2005), Go Away Closer(2007), Sent a Letter (2008), Blue Book (2008), Dream Villa (2010), Dayanita Singh (2010), and House of Love (2011) . The Adventures of a Photographer, an exhibition of her work currently on view at the Bildmuseet in Sweden (till 13 January, 2013) comprises works from the last twelve years of her career: dreamlike landscapes, cityscapes and industrial nightscapes saturated with intense colour, along with carefully executed black and white images of people and interiors such as her renowned portraits of Indian upper-middle-class families and her latest project File Room.

The exhibition Dayanita Singh / The Adventures of a Photographer is curated by Katarina Pierre, Director Bildmuseet, assisted by Polly Yassin.

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Art, Photography

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