Dayanita Singh (an artist born and living in India) said “I think I feel at a dead end with photography in a traditional way. ” That sentiment lead her to her practice of combining photography and literature within the book format. In Defining Contemporary Art, Hans Ulrich Obrist describes her work as being “imbued with a distinct sense of intimacy and the quotidian” (428). Her photographic subjects can be as varied as individual sitters, domestic interiors, marketplaces, and large-scale urban and industrial scenes.
The book format, with its small scale and portability, allows Singh to play with methods of distribution. In one project, she distributed a limited edition book (Chairs) to friends that were then asked to distribute them to other friends. While she initially controls the dissemination of her work, she also allows chance to determine where her books will end up. It is this thoughtfulness and playfulness that I find most interesting in Singh’s work. It seems to me that the artist further imbues her work with meaning by choosing who will be her collaborators in distribution. This method of sharing her work seems to speak further to Obrist’s description of her work as being intimate and of the quotidian. Her audience becomes specific and meaningful and one has the sense that the artist is not concerned with prestigious exposure in everything that is art related.
This way of distributing work to a network of friends led me to consider further how I, myself, might play around with the distribution of my very new zine, Cause & Effect. I’ve started to give the zine to people I talk to but only if somehow we are talking about my work or about loneliness. Both instances occured this week—a conversation of my work with someone I just met, and a conversation about loneliness with a fellow dog walker (she brought up the loneliness topic). This zine and intervention project is very much about being open to emergent ideas and allowing them to flourish and shape the zine rather than following a pre-set method of working.
Issue 2 has taken shape and will be available soon. It is, I feel, tougher in tone than Issue 1. Divergent and interesting ideas are bubbling up for Issue 3.