Constellation Cafe Books : Dayanita Singh, House of Love & Sent A Letter

This post discusses about three books, two which I love and the other one which I’m still unsure about. But all three are by the same photographer / author (as she would have liked herself to be called for the last book).

Dayanita Singh is a incredibly gifted photographer who’s been known for her black and white work. I’ve been a big fan of her work for quite some time now. And I’m going to talk about three of her books today. First one is “Sent a letter”. I would have written about it but I found a great blog which already did review the book and its a great review. So do have a look.

The second book we’re gonna talk about is a compilation of almost* all books which Dayanita has made (*almost because it doesn’t have any content from her first book or her latest one). The book is called Dayanita Singh and the first thing you notice about it is that its exorbitantly expensive, 6,000 INR is the market price. Its a little sad that the first thing you notice about the book is the cost.

The cover features the iconic image from her series : Go Away Closer. The inside pages here show one of the pictures from her series with women in Calcutta

Printed beautifully, the book catalogs her work in projects, step by step. You might think that you’ll get quite a lot of content when you’re spending this kind of money but the book gives you about 30 to 40% content from her other books and just puts them together. But the best part is that it introduces the reader to what goes on in the photographers mind, subtly inducing a poetic veiwpoint in their subconscious.

The book has weight which makes you sit down and feel it rather than just flip through it, a part which I really liked

The last book that I have with me is House of Love. Recently released, it focuses on letting the reader form stories in their minds though short visual narratives. The book introduces a new concept around storytelling through photographs, highly inspired from Dayanita’s love for literature. Though the concept of the book is great and its ground breaking in its own way, what really lets you down is that the images seem to be insipid and repetitive when compared to her older work. Its true that a photographer has a certain style and charm to the way they imagine and conceive a series but taking older style content and using it to create something as new as this didn’t work for me.

From the release of "House of Love" in Calcutta, Oxford Bookshop on Park Street which I attended. Fun times!

Dayanita did verify that the book infact contains all previously unpublished work except four images but I would have wished for a photographer of her stature to experiment more. Yes some pictures where she selectively lights up the foreground with colored gels are spectacular, other work almost seems like part of her older work. I wish Dayanita had something more to show, something fantastic to hold the concept high.

The book starts with a beautifully lit portrait, very classy and amazinly moody.
Divided into chapters, much like a novel, the book takes the viewer though a series of photo stories. Strong enough to hold as independent pictures too, each story is crisp and yet abstract enough to let the readers thoughts flow.
I could write about the make of the book, which is really important when talking about books by Dayanita (just because so much thought goes behind the make of her books) but to me pictures are what matter more so I'll let other blogs / reviewers speak about that part

So go out and get these books, expensive but totally worth the money (other than House of Love, which I’m still unsure of). Dayanita’s work has always been inspiring and beautiful, definitely worth your collection.

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5 thoughts on “Constellation Cafe Books : Dayanita Singh, House of Love & Sent A Letter

  1. What a fantastic review! I am glad you wrote about it. And the pictures brings with it a different level of intimacy to the photographer’s work. Beautiful!

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