128 pages, 90 tritone plates
20 cm x 24 cm
Clothbound hardcover with dust jacket
Publication date: February 2004
What can a photographer in India capture on film other than disasters or the exotic? Dayanita Singh was preoccupied by this question after she had spent many years documenting the poverty in her homeland. Her answer was a return to the world from which she came, to India’s extended, well-to-do families and their fine homes. Both on commission and on her own, she photographed friends and friends of friends, creating a portrait of another society, complete with its traditional and post-colonial symbols of prosperity.
The self-confident elite of the country is nearly unknown in the West. Privacy provides great insight into a closed world characterized by tight family solidarity. Singh shows the people as they would like to see themselves, in the middle of splendidly decorated rooms and surrounded by possessions that represent their self-image. At a certain point in her work Singh realized that even without their residents, the rooms were occupied by the invisible generations that had lived there before. The book closes with photographs of interiors, empty but still filled with spirits.