In this first episode of 2022, Ben Luke talks to Dayanita Singh about her influences, from art to literature, music and film, and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work.
Singh, who was born in 1961 in New Delhi, India, is one of the most pioneering photographers of recent decades. She resists the idea of a single, decisive image, and instead presents her richly diverse, poetic photographs in the context of constructed environments, bespoke archival structures and artists’ books. She continues to push the presentation of her photography in new directions.
In the conversation, she recalls how her mother’s photography was a “traumatic” part of her childhood and remembers an early opportunity to photograph the celebrated tabla player Zakir Hussain.
She talks about her passion for the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke and Michael Ondaatje, the revelatory visits to Shankar’s Dolls Museum in Delhi, and about her remarkable project documenting Mona, a lifelong friend and collaborator. Plus, she answers all our usual questions, including the ultimate one: what is art for?
• Dayanita Singh: Dancing with My Camera, Gropius Bau, Berlin, 18 March-7 August 2022. The exhibition tours to Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, MUDAM Luxembourg, the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, and Les Rencontres d’Arles, France.