Monday, 28 October 2013

Dayanita Singh: Go away closer

Dayanita Singh is an artist who works with photography. Her exhibition Go Away Closer is on at the Hayward Gallery until 15 December. Thanks to my husband's passion for photography I'm beginning to be able to discern a well thought out photograph from an idle snap taken on a phone camera but it's been a long time coming.

Similarly I find listening to music difficult because it feels like a foreign language that I don't understand and I'm unsure how to respond. Dayanita refers to music in the exhibition notes saying that she 'understood that music, with its pauses and silences, has lessons for photography'.

Dayanita is a natural storyteller and uses her photography to form books as a way of engaging with the viewer. For her, photography is a language and the images are texts. The smallest exhibit in the show is a concertinaed structure with a photograph on each face and the exhibition notes echo this design as a folded out leaflet rather than a small booklet stapled at the spine.

While I found the unconventional arrangement of the photographs challenging to look at (if you change the order in which they appear you simultaneously change their meaning) I did respond to the way she works in series because I like to do that myself.

Dayanita clearly thinks rather differently about the world from many of us because she is creating her own Museums to display her work. Unlike the vast cathedrals to science, art and the natural world I am used to visiting in Kensington these museums are large wooden structures like movable book cases which can be transported around the world and then put on display. These allow her to choose endlessly different arrangements of her pictures and in this way her work can 'keep on growing or changing.'

I imagine that you could visit this exhibition over and over again and it would be different every time. I think there were roughly six of these museums on display when we visited. They included images along with empty shelves causing me to wonder what might be in them if I came back the next day.

Living in London we are bombarded with photographs at every turn. They are on the tube, on the bus, on billboards, inside shops and also everywhere on the internet to the extent that I find I'm protecting myself from the endless stream of photographic images which invades my daily life. This exhibition helped me see photography in a different light, to engage with it and revel in the stories the images revealed which was both refreshing and a delight.


jacqui boyd said...

must admit, photography is a bit of mystery to me despite both my daughters loving photography. It seems to lack the tactile quality that most paintings have. Many a time I have been in gallery of photographs and thought, I could have done that (say that about painting as well, lot of the time,lol) or left feeling what was that all about, its borin. Where is the umph I get from a lot of work of art, even some pretty bad work.

Having looked briefly at her website, I am not sure how I would feel about her work in life but somehow the way it is presented, it would probably make me think, wow, that is interesting. So maybe that is what is missing, presentation.

This is equally as true with any art form. I saw an a middling exhibition locally recently. There were one or 2 I like, mainly because they were although to just hang so the natural light shone through them, so each side of the work was different. However, she had several smaller versions of this piece which she had stuck them rather badly on some canvas and then to top it off some basic,poorly made off white frames!

Anyway, your review was very thought provoking and hopingly one day I will see this ladies work in Austin.I very much doubt it :(

Heather James said...

Jacqui I'm glad you found it thought provoking because I found it a difficult post to write. :)