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Episode 18: Dayanita Singh is an absolute powerhouse of an individual and artist. Her work is profoundly committed to books. Her exemplary outlook on the form and function of knowledge as it relates to books, production and art has set the example for many people who are thinking about its form differently, but also how it is distributed in collections, galleries and museums. Her efforts to extol the virtues of book-object suggests a new strategy for how we may see the inherent importance of the medium on the coming years.
Dayanita was kind enough to speak with me on her practice and her history with the medium. I found her full of light, funny, kind and inspiring. These are not the easiest of traits to elicit from subjects. Her natural ability to consider my propositions about the “subversive” nature of her work and the way in which we may begin thinking about alternative foundations of knowledge in photography was illuminating.
We spoke about her history and the need to also think more inclusively about how museums represent various historiographies. She countered a parry that I had formed with a question about Western demagoguery in post-colonial discussions with a grace that I commend her for. I had tried to line up the shot with some trepidation in my own opinion on the matter and Dayanita countered with thoughtful rumination on Glenn Lowry. Everybody kind of won and I think that sets the tone for how discussions such as those currently en vogue should be meted out.
Finally, we spoke abut the need to make our own party and how you have to be ceaseless in your activity and drive to participate. We both agreed that nobody would simply hand over the keys. Dayanita has been a highlight in my series of conversations and this very conversation has broadly challenged the way I personally look at publishing and book-making.