There is not a seat left in the cosy bookstore. People are crowding at the back completely immersed in what the speaker says, and of course, her images. The CMYK Bookstore at Greater Kailash II hosted artist Dayanita Singh, who began her career as a photojournalist and portrait-maker. For the last decade, Singh, who is in her late 50s, has been working on pocket museums that belongs to the family of travelling museums.
“I wanted to construct museums that are not handicapped by the restrictions imposed when transporting one’s work,” says Singh. Each box opens like a portal to a hidden chamber to reveal a set of nine ‘pocket museums’ with simple but eccentric names. The pocket museums can be unfolded, like an accordion, to display an array of images. The work is pocket-friendly in every sense—from the price to the portability.
“One can set up an exhibition almost anywhere.
People are at liberty to create their own private exhibitions out of them. You can choose to open the booklets in full or partially. The museums are flexible enough to free you to indulge your fancy,” says Singh. The small books can be carried around in a bag or in one’s back pocket. One can open them anywhere and flip through them and even share with friends.
“I come from a storyteller’s family. My mother Nony Singh, a photographer, motivated me to think out of the box. She made an album of my father’s girlfriends and put her own picture on the last page,” laughs this National Institute of Design graduate. Singh believes that every artist needs to have their distinct form. “In my case, the book was my form,” she adds.
Photographs are to her what paint is to a painter. “I’ve been saying this for a while now that I’m a bookmaker,” she says. “It’s just that photographs happen to be my raw materials.” It was the camera that opened up her world so magnificently, giving her a precious ticket to freedom. Although Singh now uses a digital camera, she prefers film. “The difference between using digital and analogue forms is akin to typing on computers and writing longhand,” she says.