House of Love
“The house of love is a house of illusions, is a house of returns, is a house of art, is a house of death...” – Aveek Sen.
Dayanita Singh’s latest body of work, entitled “House of Love,” is novelistic in its approach yet curiously elliptical in its multiple subject matters. For the first time in a single series, Ms. Singh has combined black-and-white with color photographs, images shot both in India and around the world, yet none are identified and all are allowed to be free-floating, tethered to one another only by the circumstances of “stories” in which they have been grouped (with individual titles such as “Continuous cities, “ “Theft in a cake shop,” “Departure lounge,” and “Being of darkness,” the nine “stories” ranging in groups as small as six and as large as seventeen pictures). Everything and all to be at the service of the book of the same name, Ms. Singh’s primary medium for her images and the unifying structure in which this diversity becomes succinct.
The subjects of Ms. Singh’s pictures range from bucolic landscapes and congested cityscapes; portraits of friends, acquaintances and strangers (both formally posed and spontaneously captured); arrangements of objects found in homes, museums and offices; the interiors of all types of spaces and the exteriors of all manner of constructions. This multiplicity finds cohesion in proscribed themes which run throughout Ms. Singh’s project: the romance of travel, the mysteries of attraction, and the displaced yearnings of desire. “House of Love” is Ms. Singh’s response to the delirious satisfaction she has found within the works of her favourite authors (Italo Calvino, Amitav Ghosh, Orhan Pamuk, W.G. Sebald, Vikram Seth, among others), telling a story of life and how it is lived in the way she knows how to, through photographs collected into a book.
Dayanita Singh (born in New Delhi in 1960) is one of India’s most accomplished photographers. Her works have been presented in exhibitions throughout the world, most recently as a solo show at the Shiseido Gallery in Tokyo. In 2009, the Mapfre Foundation in Madrid organized a retrospective of her work which subsequently travelled to Amsterdam and Bogota and her pictures of “File Rooms” were given prominence in the exhibition “Illuminazione,” which formed the centrepiece of the 2011 Venice Biennale. Making books is now her passion and she has collaborated with the prestigious Steidl press to create a number of titles, including the seven-volume “Sent A Letter,” which has been named one of the 200 pivotal artworks produced in the past 25 years in Phaidon Press’s “Defining Contemporary Art.” This is her fifth solo show with Nature Morte, the first being the exhibition “Family Portraits” in 1998.
Excerpts from “House of Love” have been exhibited at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Frieze Art Fair in London (with the Frith Street Gallery) in the past year. The book “House of Love” (with texts by Aveek Sen, published by Peabody Museum Press and Radius Press) will be available at Nature Morte during the exhibition, as well as all of Ms. Singh’s titles published by Steidl and the book documenting her Mapfre Foundation retrospective (published by Penguin India).