Sent a Letter by Dayanita Singh (b. 1961, India)

Born in New Delhi in 1961, Dayanita Singh uses her photography to transform the ways in which we relate to images. Her distinctive black-and-white photographs of people and places in India have established her as one of the most important photographers of the twenty-first century. Drawing on her interest in archives and the expansion of narrative possibilities, Singh primarily uses the format of the book to present her photographs.

For much of her career, Singh has made small photo journals and diaries documenting her travels in India. Sent a Letter consists of seven of these diaries and can be more fully understood as a “portable museum.” Six of the volumes are visual diaries of Singh’s sojourn in Indian cities, some of which she refers to by their former colonial names, including “Allahabad,” “Calcutta,” and “Bombay,” and others she refers to by their original appellation, such as Varanasi, Devigarh, and Padmanabhapuram. The seventh volume consists of photographs taken by the artist’s mother, Nony Singh. As one of her most autobiographical projects, Sent a Letter intimately explores Singh’s experiences in India through the lens of the places she visited as well as the relationships that evolved during her trip. Each volume was originally made with an individual in mind, such as the friends that joined her on her travels.

Sent a Letter
Dayanita Singh (b. 1961, India)
Seven softcovers, housed in a handmade cloth box
Gift of Umesh and Sunanda Gaur Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S2021.7.1.1a–b–S2021.7.1.7