If a picture says a thousand words, then Dayanita Singh’s photographs tell as many stories. One of the most gifted artists of our times, Singh is a much loved figure in Calcutta. A frequent visitor, she has photographed many eminent Calcuttans, who are part of her collection of portraits, Ladies of Calcutta (2008).
Apart from its unique gem-like clarity, Singh’s black-and-white work seduces the viewer with what she describes as “a novelistic plot”. You have to “read” her images as you would a novel. She spends months sequencing each body of work until she has told her tale, Singh explained at the launch of her latest book, Dream Villa (based on the exhibition in Delhi earlier this year), at Max Mueller Bhavan on Thursday, April 8.
Dream Villa looks like an engagement diary, but holds within itself “a world where nothing is quite what it seems”. “The gutter runs through every image,” says Singh, “as though I have slaughtered my own pictures. But if you look hard enough, you can see the full thing, though it leaves you with an uncomfortable feeling. There are no page numbers, and the binding is such that the book snaps shut if you try to keep it open on a table. You have to hold it in your hands and read it.”
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