Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dayanita Singh, Museum Bhavan, Steidl, 2017

This is a really fascinating book object that is made up of a collection of accordions published by this Indian photographer who was born in 1961. The original Museum Bhavan was comprised of a series of nine accordion-like wooden structures which held the black and white photographs that comprised each 'museum'. The present publication is another manifestation of that exhibition but miniaturized for the book medium and it includes 9 'museums', and an explanatory booklet, all of them presented in a handmade box from India. The museums range from Museum of Machines, Museum of Men, to the Little Ladies Museum and the Museum of Vitrines, with all of them presented as one-sided accordions with a varying number of black and white photographs related to each museum's theme. 

Museum Bhavan poses some interesting questions as it sits at the edge of the territory of the book, the archive, the museum and even the catalogue. Singh, however, wants the reader to arrange the books in an exhibition of their own making and of the book she notes "I think it's very difficult to describe the thread that holds the museums together, but I hope when you see them all, you can feel the thread." Furthermore, she notes "I know there's magic in images...I want to do everything to share that magic with you," and "This is not something I want you to look at once or twice. This is not a magazine. This is my archive." 
[BUILDING MUSEUM BHAVAN – Dayanita singh , Random thoughts on Photography, Art and being a soloist]

9 booklets with a page size of 5.5" (h) x 3.75" (w) with varying numbers of pages and a minimum extended length of 8ft. Also included is "Conversation Chambers" with texts prepared by Aveek Sen that includes interviews with the artist talking about her work and the themes she's exploring in her work.

Back of the book with list of museums inside

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