Dayanita Singh Interview: Stealing in the Night



One full moon night, a mysterious burglar broke into the home of renowned Indian photographer Dayanita Singh, and stole all the used film rolls from under her bed. This strange incident became the beginning of the project ‘Dream Villa’.

“I came to photography through music.” In this interview Dayanita Singh (b.1961) explains how she decided to become a photographer because it meant she would not have to follow the general rules of society, but in stead would be independent and free. It was music which taught her to be focused, and it also taught her the importance of knowing when to stop: While people want more.”Making pictures is maybe just ten procent of what I do. The rest of it is thinking about the form, the editing and the sequence. In that I am always looking to literature.”

Starting in the 1980s Dayanita Singh worked as a photo journalist on assignments for international magazines and newspapers, before switching to documentary-style and portrait photography. Singh first became known for her portraits of India’s urban middle and upper-class families. Many of her works are now part of the collection of National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi. Singh has exhibited all over the world and received numerous prices, amongst others the 2008 Gardner Photography Fellowship, given by Peabody Museum at Harvard.

The main focus of this interview is Singh’s later colour photography, especially the project which changed her approach to photography completely: ‘Dream Villa’. “You get seduced by it’s beauty, but actually it’s not a very pleasent place at all” Singh says about the saturated color photographs. In ‘Dream Villa’ Singh explores how the night transforms what seems ordinary by day into something mysterious and unsettling. “Dream Villa is a location in my head” she begins.

Dayanita Singh was interviewed by Michael Juul Holm at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2012.

Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Music: Thomas Knak
Produced by: Christian Lund

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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