Dayanita Singh: Go Away Closer at Southbank Centre
The new Hayward Gallery exhibition shows the work of Dayanita Singh who calls herself “not a photographer, as only ten percent of it is taking photos and the rest is editing and sequencing”. This artist is above all a storyteller: throughout Go Away Closer, visitors witness the processes of capturing, archiving and rediscovering – the result of a whole decade purely photographing – before returning to her collections for narratives. Multiple lines of conversations emerge from the unconventional display of photographs.
Each piece functions as part of a wider collection to construct a story. Many previous works are photo books, including series on her friends, classical Indian musician Zakir Hussein, and the eunuch, Mona Ahmed. Many of the photographs are engaging and emotive, depicting the personalities of their subjects, and some are scenic and atmospheric.
The highlight of the exhibition is Singh’s “photo-architecture” in Museums, which originates from her 2007 piece Sent a Letter as “giant versions”. In Sent a Letter, several small booklets of her photographs are contained in a small box, but each folds open like a wordless storyboard. With this apparatus of “book-thinking”, both of intelligently mobile storage and display, Singh develops another form of archiving and presentation in a more permanent structure for Museums.
Through Museums, Singh’s assembly of chosen photographs, some over 30 years old, are slipped within large wooden structures, like a hybrid of panelled screens or bookcases, in which grids hold a range of up to 140 photographs. These tell a variety of stories, depending on the type of museum: one is about chairs, another about paper archive rooms, and some are about people. She also changes the experience of art viewing as her labyrinth of structures can be differently positioned, folded out, even extended. Throughout Go Away Closer at the Hayward Gallery, Singh will rearrange her choices of photographs, so that new narratives may be told.
To Singh, “photographs are words, and put them together a sonnet or a novel may appear” – and this interpretation from physicality to language epitomises her idea of what photography is now. Go Away Closer portrays photography with poetic and curious depth as much more than just the ten percent of photo taking.
Dayanita Singh: Go Away Closer is at the Hayward Gallery until 15th December 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.
Watch a trailer for Dayanita Singh: Go Away Closer here: