Dayanita Singh’s Museums

Dayanita Singh is one photographer we keep revisiting for her poignant black and white photographs. Her current exhibition Go Away Closer at the Hayward Gallery gives us the opportunity to dwell and wander amidst her work to our heart’s desire. And wander we did, quite literally too, among the Museums she has created as part of this exhibition.

Expertly sequenced and edited, these Museums have varied titles – Museum of Furniture, Museum of Machines, Museum of Chance, File Museum and so on – and they comprise of physical free-standing structures that double up as bookshelves. Singh’s images are slotted into these structures and can be moved around at whim to create new sequences.

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While Singh doesn’t like to call herself a photographer and sees photography as a language, her prefers investigating different ways of presenting and circulating her images. While she has resorted until now to using books for this purpose, she has recently started working with these Museum structures which she hopes to display and tour as a set.

We were really inspired by her Museum of Furniture and Museum of Machines, though sadly as gallery assistants were patrolling the space, we could only escape with an image of the former.

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Museum of Furniture

Since Singh doesn’t caption most of her works, these sequences and Museum titles are very welcome, and are the highlight of an exhibition that would otherwise seem quite non-directional to someone not familiar with her work.

‘What does the where and when of a photograph do, other than satisfy your curiosity?’ she asks in the exhibition guide. Well it does a lot to add context, but we don’t mind when you help us along the way no matter how broadly.

We strongly recommend going to see this show which is vastly different from the Ana Mendieta exhibition that Hayward Gallery currently has on view on the lower floors. You might like one more than the other but we’ll let you decide which.

But before we go, we have to leave you with this Dayanita Singh image that we can’t get out of our heads. Part of Singh’s Museum of Embraces we’re transfixed by this unknown beauty’s gaze.

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Dayanita Singh – Go Away Closer
Hayward Gallery
Till 15 December 2013

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