Dayanita Singh

Gardner Photography Fellow 2008

self portrait

Dayanita Singh was born in 1961 in New Delhi. She studied visual communication at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and documentary photography at the International Center of Photography in New York.

Her works have been exhibited extensively, including galleries in Rome, New York, Berlin, London, Milan, Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Guangju and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Singh has published nine books of her photographs: Zakir Hussain (1986), Myself, Mona Ahmed (2001), Privacy (2003), Chairs (2005), Go Away Closer (2007), Sent a Letter (2008), Blue Book (2008), Dream Villa (2010), and Dayanita Singh (2010). Dayanita Singh lives and works in New Delhi.

As the Museum’s 2008 Robert Gardner Photography Fellow, Dayanita Singh explored the human condition through images that began as a photographic diary and became the photographic fiction she titled House of Love. Although shot mostly in India, Singh says House of Love “refuses to confine the ‘human condition’ to a single meaning or context that could be reduced to categories like Indian Society or Indian Photography.”

House of Love refers to the Taj Mahal, the iconic architectural memorial to the beloved wife of a Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. For Dayanita Singh, it also refers to “a range of elusive meanings, some historical and some personal or idiosyncratic” to be teased from the photographs and accompanying text. Her work invites the viewer to dream of new meanings linking her photos with poetry and prose.

“The photographs ask to be read,” says Singh, “as if the book were a collection of stories.” The nine photographic chapters of Singh’s book are interwoven with poetry by various writers and accompanied by a set of original essays by Aveek Sen, winner of the 2009 International Center for Photography Infinity Award for Writing on Photography.

Dayanita's website

House of love cover
Dayanita Singh
Peabody Museum Press and Radius Books, 2011
198 pages / 63 color and 48 black-and-white photographs
“House of Love plays with how photography and writing together can open up ways of
reinventing a condition of truths and lies,” says Singh, “a world where nothing is as it seems to be.” 

Related Exhibition: House of Love: Photographic Fiction, Dayanita Singh