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Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre | Dayanita Singh: Go Away Closer
Dayanita Singh, "Zeiss Ikon 1996," 2013. Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London. В© the artist, 2013.

Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre

Dayanita Singh: Go Away Closer

8 October–15 December 2013


Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road
London SE1 8XX

www.southbankcentre.co.uk

Hayward Gallery presentsВ Dayanita Singh:В Go Away Closer, an exhibition that surveys the artist’s diverse practices from the past 25 years and also features a major new body of work.

Dayanita Singh (b. 1961, New Delhi) is one of the world’s most interesting artists working with photography. She is an artist who doesn’t like categories, and insists that ‘photography is not enough for me; it’s just my language, but unless I can make poetry out of it, or a novel, what good is all my vocabulary?’ She prefers to describe herself as a book-maker, working with sequences of images that form loose narratives.

Singh first became known for intimate black-and-white portraits of people and places, which are carefully observed and subtly nuanced. These luminous images focus variously on musicians, the outcast and the dispossessed, upper-middle class families, crowded rooms and empty spaces, and objects that speak of lives once lived. Over the past decade, she has produced colour photographs that push the limits of the medium. Using daylight film, with the ‘wrong’ exposures, to photograph at night, she has created images which are almost hallucinogenic in their lush intensity, and which carry the sense of strangeness and menace encountered in dreams.

While picture-making accounts for about a quarter of Singh’s work, the majority of her time and effort is spent in editing: ‘sifting, weeding out, sequencing, thinking about the form, and about what you want to create out of these images.’ Recently, her ‘book-thinking’ has extended to creating specially made physical structures for viewing her photographs. For her exhibition at Hayward Gallery, Singh will present this series of portableВ MuseumsВ for the first time. Each of these large wooden structures holds between 70 and 140 photographs and can be positioned and opened in different ways. Like other museums, they fulfil the dual functions of display and storage, allowing her to choose endlessly different arrangements of images. Drawing attention to their ‘secret’ aspect—the fact that there are always images hidden away, awaiting their turn to be shown—Singh adds: ‘that’s another reason why I like museums—because they’re full of secrets and clues.’

This exhibition is full of stories, secrets, echoes and surprises. There is much that resists explanation. There are pictures within pictures. And very occasionally there are repetitions, with certain images reappearing like revenants. В ‘I am not interested in the complete picture that you can hold onto,’ Singh contends. ‘I don’t want to tell you the whole story because there is no complete story; the story keeps changing, so the same photograph here means something, but in another context it will mean something else.’

Go Away CloserВ also includes early bodies of works, such asВ Zakir Hussain,В Bombay Portraits, and theВ MonaВ portfolio. After photographing her friend, the eunuch Mona Ahmed, for more than twenty years, Singh has distilled the essence of her long engagement with Mona’s life inВ Mona and Myself, a new ‘moving still’ which is shown here following its premiere at Venice earlier this year.

Dayanita Singh: Go Away CloserВ is curated by Dr. Stephanie Rosenthal, Chief Curator, Hayward Gallery. The exhibition catalogue features an in-depth interview with the artist by Stephanie Rosenthal and a new essay by Geoff Dyer.


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