‘Photographing is a form of friendship’: Dayanita Singh | Eye News,The Indian Express

The winner of the 2022 Hasselblad Award, Singh on rejecting norms and dancing with her camera

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HomeEye‘Photographing is a form of friendship’: Dayanita Singh


‘Photographing is a form of friendship’: Dayanita Singh

The winner of the 2022 Hasselblad Award, Singh on rejecting norms and dancing with her camera

Written by Benita Fernando

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Updated: September 15, 2022 2:07:15 pm

Museum Bhavan, 2017, installed in Agra for a private event (Courtesy: Dayanita Singh)Sunday at a seaside lounge overlooking the Gateway of India. Tourists teem outside, patrons brunch inside, boats bob on a glinting sea. Taking it all in is Delhi-based photographer Dayanita Singh, 61, seated at a sunlit window. She has called for decafs and eggs on avocado toast as a treat. A celebration is in order. A retrospective, the launch of a new “photo novel”, and winning the prestigious Hasselblad Award — all have happened in under a year.

“At first, I thought somebody was playing a joke because I don’t work as a traditional photographer. In fact, I challenge it,” Singh says, recalling March 8, when the Hasselblad Foundation announced her as this year’s awardee. Since 1980, the foundation based in Gothenburg, Sweden, has recognised pioneering photographers who continue to develop artistically and who influence younger generations of photographers. Previous awardees include Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Nan Goldin. The award, which will be given at a ceremony on October 14, comprises SEK 2,000,000 (Rs 1.47 cr), a gold medal, a diploma, an exhibition and a symposium. Winners can choose the music for the ceremony, Singh says, and she has requested Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 1 – Second Movement. Much to her surprise and delight, an orchestra will be arranged.

By choosing Singh — the first laureate from South Asia — the Hasselblad Award nods to the limitless physical means of displaying and disseminating photographs. Singh has eschewed the traditional exhibition format of prints displayed on a wall; instead of “fossilising a “single image” behind a frame, she prefers working with multiples, allowing images to play off each other; but, most importantly, she loves bookmaking.

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At times, it would seem that Singh is a bookmaker who has chosen photography. Other times, bookmaking seems like a broad category for her works. Sent a Letter (2008) opens out as accordion folds. Kochi Box (2016) has loose image cards in a wooden frame that can be rotated like in a daily calendar. In most cases, the viewer/reader is encouraged to interact and toy with her books, book objects and portable “museums”. Photographs are her building blocks, not the final product.


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Updated: 6 days ago
Mumbai, Mahārāshtra

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