The book is well known as Dayanita Singh’s primary medium, one she explores to create new relationships between photography, publishing, the exhibition and the museum. But where did her passion for the book as the ideal vessel for her photos, for the stories she tells, begin? The answer lies in Zakir Hussain, a handmade maquette Singh crafted in 1986 as her first project as a graphic design student. The protagonist of Singh’s photo essay is the Indian classical tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, whom she captured on the stage and at home with his family. Surrounding the photos are handwritten texts gleaned from interviews Singh made with her sitters, including insights from Hussain: “I will always be a musician. A musician will always be a musician, not just me. He may stop performing but the musician is still there.”
This Steidl facsimile edition is scanned from Singh’s original maquette and reproduces all its “imperfections” and idiosyncrasies including her pencilled notes about the book’s construction- indications of the influential bookmaker to come. Shanay Jhaveri’s accompanying essay discusses how Singh came to “make” the original, referring to her student notes and exploring how she intuitively assembled the book, from editing the images to design, setting the ground for the book objects and photo architectures of her later practice.
Making the book is my work. The photographs are just the raw material. I make photo-graphs to make books, and I now make books to make book objects. – Dayanita Singh