Photographs by Dayanita Singh.
Steidl, 2013. 88 pp., 70 illustrations, 9½x12½".
Dayanita Singh's photos of archives and their custodians across India examine how memory is made and how history is narrated. These images bring to light the paradox of archives: they are impersonal in their classifications, yet each is the careful handiwork of an individual archivist, an unsung keeper of history whose decisions generate the sources of much of our knowledge. Archives are vessels of orthodox fact but can also be the home of neglected details and forgotten documents than can unfix the status quo. As the pace of change in contemporary India accelerates and Indians turn from the past and fix their gaze on the future, what will become of the archive? Singh prompts us to imagine archives as not merely documents of dusty scholarship but as monuments of knowledge, beautiful in their unkempt order.
Read Nicholas Chiarella's review of File Room on photo-eye Blog.