Artepidia: Dayanita Singh

Sunday, 22 June 2014 - 6:15am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Artist Name: Dayanita Singh
Born: 1961 New Delhi
Works & Lives: New Delhi
Education: National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
International Centre of Photography, New York
Awards: Prince Claus Award, Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres

Dayanita Singh began her career as a photojournalist over 30 years ago, today she is considered to be one of the leading artists of her generation. Just a few months ago I saw Dayanita Singh's File Room at the India Art Fair. The installation comprises of black and white photographs of paper. In many ways Dayanita's photographic career is centred around paper. The artist has a visceral response to 'paper factories, old bookshops, people's private libraries. I find the thought of the secrets and knowledge contained in all that paper deeply moving. I have long conversations with my publisher that are about nothing but paper. I carry the stuff around with me all the time, because I never know when I'll have an idea for a book.' Book making and publishing are a significant part of her practice. Her books are often published without text, she calls them 'novels without words'.

The words for Singh are the photographs themselves which she arranges and rearranges into diaristic narratives. The photo is the raw material for the book and the book then becomes the raw material for a structure. In addition to her rather unconventional art practice, Singh also experiments with different ways of producing images. The artist works predominately with film but also occasionally works with a digital camera depending. "The difference between using digital and analogue forms is akin to typing on computers and writing longhand," she explains. The analogous camera comes with a fair share of constraints and advantages, but for Singh it allows for 'reflection rather than impulse. This is evident in her carefully composed images. Her work has been presented in exhibitions throughout the world; from the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Firth Street Gallery in London, a retrospective exhibition at Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid and many others. In 2013 Singh became the first Indian artist to have had a retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in London, 'Go Away Closer'.

Tech Art
The relationship between art and technology goes way back, a few hundred years ago the artist was the inventor and vice versa (think of de Vinci). Modern art owes it's evolution to technology, everything from the industrial production of paint, to the development of the camera and other technologies have had a crucial impact on the process of art making and the art being made itself. So manufactured paints and brushes aside, here's a quick list of the artists whose use of technology is just a tad bit more apparent. Rashid Rana's inventive photographic collages take digital slicing to a whole new level.

His photomontages are constructed from countless smaller images, which ironically enough are almost the antithesis of the final image they come together and construct. Manas Bhatachariya's photographs appear to be playful self-portraits of the artist as a child, but lined with motion sensors, as we come closer the images disappear, leaving behind a silver surface in which we are forced to confront our own reflections. Raqs media collective's Escapement is composed of 27 clocks depicting different time zones based on the worlds cultural and economic hubs, but instead of indicating a time, the clock hands point at different emotions like anxiety, guilt, fear etc. Naveen Thomas explores the idea of an electro-acoustic ecology through his sound pieces. His elaborate installations made of everything from old television sets, audiotapes, telephones and transistors look like they would fit perfectly in a mad scientist's lab.


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