Photographer Dayanita Singh has had her work displayed in museums and exhibits all around the world, but she thinks the traditional method needs a facelift.

“Photography is such a magical form but it’s gotten a little stunted,” she told NPR. “The most magical experience of photography is when it’s in your hands, because it’s here — you’re touching it, you can hear it, you can smell it.”

With her newest book, called Museum Bhaven, she wants to combine the experience of the museum with the ease of looking through an old family album.

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Singh has created a boxset of nine individual “museums” in book form.

The books come in a handmade box and each one folds out into strips, similar to an accordion. The hope is that viewers will create a makeshift museum by displaying the strips in their homes.

The images consist of both Singh’s old and new work and are categorized intuitively by the photographer into “lyrical chapters in a visual story.”

Image from Dayanita Singh

Museum Bhaven is Singh’s twelfth photography book. Born in 1961 in New Deli, Singh began her career as a photojournalist before moving onto bookmaking. For 30 years, she has developed photographic series revolving around Indian life and culture. She considers her photographs words that she arranges into narratives.

This isn’t the first time Singh has reworked the typical photography exhibition. In a previous demonstration, called Museum of Chance she displayed thematically connected images on wooden structures that opened and closed similarly to a privacy room divider. The idea for Museum Bhaven stemmed from here, as it is a miniature version of this.

“Museum of Chance”

The book won the Paris Photo Book of The Year Prize as well as International Center of Photography’s 2018 Infinity Award.

The book contains over 300 images and can be purchased here.


Cover Photo by Antenna