|House of Love, Photographs by Dayanita Singh. |
Published by Radius Books, 2010.
Reviewed by Adam Bell
Dayanita Singh House of Love
Photographs by Dayanita Singh. Prose by Aveek Sen.
Radius Books, 2010. Hardbound. 172 pp., 106 color and black & white illustrations, 6-1/4x9-3/4".
South of Delhi, in the plains of Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal stands as a testament to love and devotion. Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who tragically died in child birth, the iconic mausoleum took over twenty years to construct. By the end of its construction, Shah Jahan himself was deposed and eventually buried next to his wife -- forever resting with his beloved. In addition to hosting millions of visitors a year, the Taj Mahal has come to represent not only the love of a king for his queen, but the rich and diverse culture of India itself. As a mirror, the Taj Mahal reflects not only stories of love, but also the complex stories of Indian life -- both past and present.
The photographer Dayanita Singh's latest book House of Love uses the Taj Mahal, or 'house of love,' as a thread to tie nine photographic stories together. Well-known for her photographic books, such as Sent a Letter and Blue Book, Singh's work is particularly well-suited to the intimacy of the book. While her work has always had a poetic and literary quality, that relationship is even more apparent in this latest book where her work is paired with prose by Aveek Sen.
There is no simple meaning to Singh's work. The chapters give the book a loose structure, but don't constrain the work. Exploring issues of love, history, longing, despair and beauty, House of Love is a beautiful book and welcome addition to any library.—Adam Bell
_____________________________Adam Bell is a photographer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. He received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and his work has been exhibited and published internationally. He is the co-editor and co-author, with Charles H. Traub and Steve Heller, of The Education of a Photographer (Allworth Press, 2006). His writing has appeared in Foam Magazine, Lay Flat and Ahorn Magazine. He is currently on staff and faculty at the School of Visual Arts' MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department.