Dayanita Singh at National Museum, New Delhi, 2014
|Born||1961 (age 55–56) 
|Occupation||Contemporary Artist, Photographer|
Dayanita Singh is an artist. Her medium is photography and the book is her primary form. She studied Visual Communication at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and Documentary Photography at the International Center of Photography in New York City. She has published twelve books: Museum of Chance (2014), Fileroom (2013), House of Love (2011), Dayanita Singh (2010), Dream Villa (2010), Blue Book (2009), Sent a Letter (2008), Go Away Closer (2007), Chairs (2005), Privacy (2003), Myself Mona Ahmed (2001) and Zakir Hussain (1986).
Dayanita Singh’s art reflects and expands on the ways in which people relate to photographic images. Her recent works, drawn from her extensive photographic oeuvre, are a series of mobile museums that allow her images to be endlessly edited, sequenced, archived and displayed. Stemming from Singh’s interest in the archive, the museums present her photographs as interconnected bodies of work that are replete with both poetic and narrative possibilities.
Publishing is also 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. Here, Singh’s latest is the “book-object,” a work that is concurrently a book, an art object, an exhibition and a catalogue. This work, also developing from the artist’s interest in the poetic and narrative possibility of sequence and re-sequence, allows Singh to both create photographic sequence and also simultaneously disrupt it.
Museum Bhavan has been shown at the Hayward Gallery, London (2013), the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2014), the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2014) and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi (2016). Singh has also authored eleven books: Zakir Hussain (1986), Myself, Mona Ahmed (2001), Privacy (2003), Chairs (2005), Go Away Closer (2007), Sent A Letter (2008), Blue Book (2009), Dream Villa (2010), House of Love (2011), File Room (2013), and Museum of Chance (2014). Her twelfth book, Museum Bhavan, also published with Steidl, is forthcoming in Fall 2016.
Early life and background
Born in Delhi, in 1961, Singh studied Visual Communication at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and later Documentary Photography at the International Center of Photography in New York City.
Singh’s first foray into photography and bookmaking came through a chance encounter with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, when he invited her to photograph him in rehearsal after she was shoved by an aggressive official while attempting to shoot him in concert. For six winters following this, Singh documented several Hussain tours and, in 1986, finally published the images in her first book, Zakir Hussain. Referring to him as her first "true guru", Singh believes that Hussain taught her the most important of all skills: focus.
Singh’s second book, Myself Mona Ahmed was published in 2001, after more than a decade spent on assignment as a photojournalist. A mix of photobook, biography, autobiography and fiction, this ‘visual novel’ emerged as a result of Mona’s refusal to be the subject of what could have been a routine but problematic photojournalistic project as well as Singh’s own discomfort with the West’s tendency to view India through simplistic, exotic lenses.
In the years following this, Singh has collaborated with the publisher Gerhard Steidl in Goettingen, Germany to make a number of books, including Privacy, Chairs, the direction-changing Go Away Closer, the seven-volume Sent A Letter, Blue Book, Dream Villa, Fileroom and Museum of Chance. Sent A Letter was included in the 2011 Phaidon Press book Defining Contemporary Art: 25 years in 200 Pivotal Artworks (ISBN 9780714862095). Steidl said in a 2013 interview on Deutsche Welle television, "She is the genius of book making". Dream Villa was produced during her Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography given annually by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University; Singh was its second recipient in 2008.
Singh's works have been presented in exhibitions throughout the world, most notably at the Hayward Gallery in London in 2013  and at the German pavilion in the Venice Biennale. In 2009, the Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid organised a retrospective of her work, which subsequently travelled to Amsterdam, Bogota and Umea. Her pictures of "File Rooms" were first presented in the exhibition, "Illuminazione," at the 2011 Venice Biennale.
In 2014, at the National Museum, New Delhi, the photo-based artist, built the Book Museum using her publications, File Room and Privacy as well as her mothers book, Nony Singh: The Archivist. And she also displayed a part of "Kitchen Museum" which are accordion-fold books with silver gelatin prints in 8 teak vitrines that she makes as letters to fellow travellers or conservationists since 2000. Seven of these were published by Steidl as "Sent a Letter".
Singh also presented the Museum of Chance as a book-object for the first time in India in November 2014 at a show in the Goethe-Institut in Mumbai and in January 2015 at a show in the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan in New Delhi. The book-object is a work that is a book, an art object, an exhibition and a catalogue, all at once. In order to move away from showing editioned prints framed on the wall, Singh made the book itself the art object: a work to be valued, looked at and read as such, rather than being regarded as a gathering of photographic reproductions.
- 2016 Museum of Chance Book Object, a solo exhibition at the Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
- 2015-16 Conversation Chambers Museum Bhavan, a solo exhibition at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi 
- 2015 Dayanita Singh: Book works, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi 
- 2014 Museum of Chance: A Book Story, Goethe-Institut, Mumbai 
- 2014 Dayanita Singh a solo exhibition at the Art Institute, Chicago 
- 2014 Go Away Closer, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt 
- 2014 Building the Book Museum: photography, language, form National Museum, New Delhi
- 2013 Go Away Closer, Hayward Gallery, London
- 2012 Dayanita Singh: File Room, Frith Street Gallery, London
- 2012 Dayanita Singh / The Adventures of a Photographer, Bildmuseet, Umea University, Sweden
- 2012 Monuments of Knowledge, Photographs by Dayanita Singh, King's College London
- 2012 House of Love, Nature Morte, New Delhi
- 2011 Adventures of a Photographer, Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo
- 2011 House of Love, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge
- 2011 Dayanita Singh, Museum of Art, Bogota
- 2010 Dayanita Singh, Mapfre Foundation, Madrid
- 2010 Dream Villa, Nature Morte, New Delhi
- 2010 Dayanita Singh (Photographs 1989 – 2010), Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- 2009 Blue Book, Nature Morte, New Delhi
- 2009 Blue Book, Galerie Mirchandani Steinruecke, Bombay
- 2008 Les Rencontres d'Arles festival, France
- 2008 Let You Go, Nature Morte, Berlin
- 2008 Dream Villa, Frith Street Gallery, London
- 2008 Sent a Letter, Alliance Francaise, New Delhi
- 2008 Sent a Letter, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai
- 2008 Ladies of Calcutta, Bose Pacia Gallery, Calcutta
- 2007 Go Away Closer, Kriti gallery, Varanasi
- 2007 Go Away Closer, Gallerie Steinruecke Mirchandani, Mumbai
- 2007 Beds and Chairs, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
- 2006 Beds and Chairs, Valentina Bonomo gallery, Rome
- 2006 Go Away Closer, Nature Morte, New Delhi
- 2005 Chairs, Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, Boston
- 2005 Chairs, Frith Street Gallery, London
- 2005 Chairs, Studio Guenzani, Milan
- 2004 Privacy, Rencontres-Arles, Arles
- 2003 Dayanita Singh: Privacy, Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
- 2003 Myself Mona Ahmed, Museum of Asian Art, Berlin
- 2003 Dayanita Singh: Image/Text (Photographs 1989–2002), Department of Art and Aesthetics. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
- 2002 I am as I am, Myself Mona Ahmed, Scalo Galerie, Zurich
- 2002 Parsees at Home, Gallery Chemould, Bombay
- 2002 Bombay to Goa, Kalaghoda Festival, Bombay
- 2002 Bombay to Goa, Art House India, Goa
- 2001 Empty Spaces, Frith Street Gallery, London
- 2000 Demello Vado, Saligao Institute, Goa
- 2000 I am as I am, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
- 2000 Dayanita Singh, Gallery Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels
- 2000 Dayanita Singh, Tempo Festival, Stockholm
- 1999 Mona Darling, Venezia Immagine, Venice
- 1999 Family Portraits, Studio Guenzani, Milan
- 1998 Family Portraits, Nature Morte, New Delhi
- 1997 Images from the 90s, Scalo Galerie, Zurich
- 2016 Suitcase Museum and Kitchen Museum at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia for the 20th Biennale of Sydney
- 2016 Museum of Chance Book Object, a solo project at the Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh
- 2015 Constructs/Constructions, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi
- 2015 After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India 1947/1997, Queens Museum, New York
- 2014 Whorled Explorations: Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, Kochi
- 2014 Silver, Frith Street Gallery, London
- 2014 Reading Cinema, Finding Words: Art After Marcel Broodthaers, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
- 2014 Reading Cinema, Finding Words: Art After Marcel Broodthaers, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
- 2014 City Dwellers: Contemporary Art From India, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
- 2013 Biennale di Venezia, German Pavilion.
- 2011 Paris-Delhi-Bombay, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris
- 2007 Private/Corporate, Sammlung Daimler Chrysler, Berlin
- 2006 Sub-Contingent, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin
- 2006 The Eighth Square, Ludwig Museum, Cologne
- 2006 Cities in Transition, NYC, Boston Hartford
- 2005 Presence, Sepia International, New York
- 2005 Edge of Desire, Asia Society, New York
- 2004 Ten Commandments, Stiftung Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden
- 2004 Edge of Desire, art gallery of Western Australia, Perth
- 2003 Architektur der Obdachlosigkeit, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
- 2003 The Family, Windsor Gallery, Florida
- 2002 Red Light, Australian Center for Photography, Sydney
- 2002 Kapital und Karma. Aktuelle Positionen indischer Kunst, Kunsthalle, Wien
- 2002 Bollywood – Das indische Kino und die Schweiz, Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich
- 2002 Banaras: The Luminous City, Asia Society, New York
- 2002 Photo Sphere, Nature Morte, New Delhi
- 2000 Century City, Tate Modern, London
- 1999 Another Girl, Another Planet, Greenberg Gallery, New York
- 1999 Inferno and Paradiso, BildMuseet Umeå, Sweden
- 1999 Worlds of Work – Images of the South, Musée d'ethnographie, Geneva
- 1998 Another India, Crealdé School of Art, Orlando, Florida
- 1998 La Filature, Mulhouse, France
- 1997 India—A Celebration of Independence,1947–1997, Museum of Fine Arts, Philadelphia
- 1997 Out of India, Contemporary Art of the South Asian Diaspora, Queens Museum of Art, New York
- 1997 India—A Contemporary View, Asian Arts Museum, San Francisco
- 1995 So many worlds—Photographs from DU Magazine, Holderbank, Aargau, Switzerland
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