Given the pandemic, the best way to connect with Randhir Singh’s architectural photography is through his Instagram handle @_randhirsingh. An architect as well, Singh often uploads the pictures of urban structures of Defence Colony, where he resides, and where houses were largely allotted to Indian military officials post-Independence. Singh’s portfolio offers fascinating historical sights, embedded in the built structures of the area. Majestic spiral staircases in homes, low-rise boundary walls, bungalows in subtle tones and small side-street establishments of istriwallahas, add to the narrative.
In his collaboration with Ishara Art Foundation, titled Alt+Shift+Studio, that attempts to redefine artist studios in the 21st century, Singh has expanded his realm. The project is inspired from Raqs Media Collective’s initiative ‘City as Studio’ 2010-13, Sarai, Delhi. Singh’s own studio is in Sujan Singh’s Park. “There are three projects in the presentation I made for Alt+Shift+Studio, a concept ideated by Sabih Ahmed and Laura Metzler at the Ishara Art Foundation.
The concept tries to break away from the traditional image of an artist’s studio as often understood as an isolated space, and change it to an idea that connects to the city in different ways. “In my work, I imagine ‘moving through the city’ itself is a kind of ‘studio’ with the line, point and field acting as ways of interacting with the city.” he says. In the first project, the photographer traces the line of the Barapullah nallah exploring the urban landscape along it.
He says, “The area around it was once a regular stream of water.” In the next project, Singh documented the city’s water towers as points across the landscape. Each water tower is treated as a sculptural object with the photograph exploring the relationship between the object and the landscape. Finally, he explored the CPWD old government housing societies that are in the process of getting demolished. Multiple trips to Netaji Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, among others were made for this.
Singh admits to having a love-hate relationship with Delhi. “Life here is very difficult and in a way, very aggressive too, especially because of the traffic. The infrastructure is in poor condition. Either it is boiling hot or chilling cold. Unlike in the pandemic, it is very polluted too,” he says, while also showering praises on the Capital. “Some of the neighbourhoods are very beautiful, especially Lutyens’ Delhi. Early mornings are gorgeously pleasant. When I am out taking photographs, people are very kind, they chat with you, guide you, and tell you the things about neighbourhoods you might have missed.”