Legs in unison

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Jul 24 2016

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Category: Asia, India

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The central image in the picture is one of 196 photos, fit in wooden screens, that together formed the installation by Dayanita Singh at the Kochi Biennale 2014. The Exhibition Guide says that the installation “is a year’s work presented as a series of interconnected movements in life and thought (…)”. For the viewer it would take days to look at all the 196 photos while trying to discover a sense in the way they are interconnected.

Confronted with a work like this, one soon feels lost. The title of the installation, 1.9.2014 Dear Mr Walter, doesn’t help us much further. Maybe the Exhibition Guide can give us a clue? We are told that the photo-screens “choreograph the viewer’s encounter and engagement by reinventing the space of photography as sculpture and architecture. They suggest structures of interconnectedness that exist as much in the intangible life of inwardness or inspiration as in actual space.”
Then we feel even more lost … and irritated!

So I looked at random at the photos and selected some for a closer look. And I was intrigued by the photo in which we see three human bodies with their naked legs lying in three glass cases, one next to the other. Where did she take this picture? What kind of a place is it? An old human anatomy exhibit?
How charming they are lying there in their cases, those legs! All three pairs in the same position, one leg bent over the other in a delicate rhythm of grace. The unisonal legs of Dayanita Singh, that’s how I will remember her photowork at the biennale.

Lady in red, passing behind an empty space in one of the screens of the installation. Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala, India 2014

Lady in red, passing behind an empty space in one of the screens of the installation. Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala, India 2014

P.S. At the 2011 Venice Biennale I saw another work of black and white photographs by Dayanita Singh, called “File Room”. For every India-goer a delightful feast of recognition. See my post: The waiting room.

Photo of the week: “1.9.2014 Dear Mr Walter” (2014), detail, by Dayanita Singh at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala, India 2014

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