Dayanita Singh, BV Stairs, 2021. Archival pigment prints and wood. Two parts, 89 5/8 × 28 7/8 × 28 7/8 inches (227.5 × 53 × 53 cm) (pillar); 18 1/8 × 21 5/8 × 21 5/8 inches (46 × 55 × 55 cm) (stool). Promised gift of Kent and Kristen Lucken. Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London. © Dayanita Singh
Dayanita Singh is a Delhi-based photographer and visual artist who over a three-decades-long career has shifted and expanded traditional notions of photography. A graduate of both the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India, and the International Center of Photography in New York, Singh began her career in photojournalism and documentary photography before turning to the material and history of the medium itself. Overall, Singh explores photography’s relationships to other media, initially gaining attention for her so-called book-objects: photographs that are assembled and edited in book form to interrogate both the book as a visual medium and the constructed nature of the archive.
In recent years, Singh has begun producing mobile museums of photographic images that can be edited, arranged, sequenced, and displayed in numerous configurations within modular wooden units. BV Stairs is one of the newest iterations of this signature practice. Composed of a wooden stool and a pillar designed to encase up to twenty photographs of various staircases, the work extends the visual experience of photography into the field of architecture, where the photographic image itself builds up and constructs the three-dimensional sculpture. BV Stairs further honors Indian modernist architect Balkrishna Doshi, whose style is marked by his belief that architecture should be a living form, one that is responsive to and evolves with the needs of people and nature. Doshi’s interest in architecture’s mutability—the inherent openness of the built environment and the necessity to adapt its form over time and due to need—is echoed in Singh’s pillar, also designed to be encountered and studied in the round with interchangeable photographic components. In this way, Singh’s photographs appear to exceed fixed references but offer creative and imaginative relationships that renew themselves in every exhibition.