At the end of this month, Berlin’s Gropius Bau Museum will open its largest poll to date, and Dayanita Singh has won one of the world’s top photography awards. The Hasselblad Foundation revealed that Singh had received the 2022 Hasselblad Award, which this year is awarded in the amount of $206,500 – an amount that is about double the amount awarded in past years.
Dayanita Singh, who lives in New Delhi, is the first artist of South Asian origin to receive the award, previously awarded to photographers such as Nan Goldin, Graciela Iturbide, Waleed Raad, Cindy Sherman, and Wolfgang Tillmans.
Singh said in a statement that for years she wanted to do a class called ‘Dancing with my Hasselblad’, referring to the legendary medium format camera that gave the foundation its name. Dayanita Singh said in a statement that for years she wanted to do a class called ‘Dancing with my Hasselblad’, referring to the legendary medium format camera that gave the foundation its name.
Known for her elegant black-and-white images, Dayanita Singh has exhibited her photographs in unusual styles, such as collapsible wooden frames, which she calls “mobile museums,” and as books.
Her photographs are often conceptual, using a free visual language to explore how archives are made and how photographic images exist in relation to each other. Rare books, people she meets in India, and more have passed in front of her camera.
“Through her vast photographic oeuvre, Dayanita Singh has blazed new trails for engaging with images,” the Hasselblad Foundation said in a citation to Singh. “From a humanistic approach to portraiture to a continuing interest in the archive, her large-scale photographs are innovatively presented in books and installations.”
Dayanita Singh, a self-described “bookmaker who works with photography,” is best known for her portraits of India’s urban elite and middle class. In creating her books, she approaches each series as a complete narrative, rather than a collection of individual events.
One of the most prominent Indian photographers of her generation, Dayanita Singh has made her reputation working primarily in black and white. She has recently turned to rich color photography to explore the play of light and shadow in deserted, anonymous spaces.
In Dream Villa (2010), Dayanita Singh explores how the night turns everyday experiences into something sinister and mysterious. She returned to the urban spaces she previously explored in black and white and re-explored them in color, capturing heavy shadows, rich hues, and eerie lighting effects that imbue her work with an element of fantasy.
The extensive work of artist and photographer Dayanita Singh highlights her interest in archives, consistency, and poetic storytelling. Dayanita Singh’s use of the photographic image reflects the connection between her art form and the historical canon of art, including various processes and presentations.
Over the course of her career Dayanita Singh has published twelve books and installations corresponding to different projects, Zakir Hussain (1986), Myself, Mona Ahmed (2001), Privacy (2003), Chairs (2005), Go Away Closer (2007), Sent A Letter (2008), Blue Book (2009), Dream Villa (2010), Dayanita Singh (2010), House of Love (2011), File Room (2013), and Museum of Chance (2014).