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sepia EYE: Pamela Singh

Pamela Singh

Image

b. 1962 India

The images of Pamela Singh continue to explore feminine existence through the relationship between her own body and the social landscape, as both an insider and an outsider of contemporary Indian society.

In the early 1990s, Singh began her photographic career by honing her documentary skills. After attending Parsons School of Design, New York she attended the American College in Paris and later ICP, New York. Her photojournalistic work has been included in the pages of publications such as The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Sunday Times of London, and Paris Match. Her strong social depictions of Indian women in the military gained her international acclaim in the worldwide-traveling exhibition, India: A Celebration of Independence 1947-1997, (Aperture, 1997)

Singh began to weave influences from her own design projects involving textiles and jewelry into her own unique image crafting techniques. In her series, Fayum Heads (1994) she morphed photographs of her own face with painted depictions of ancient royals. In Tantric Self Portraits (2000-2003) she embellished the images with hand colored painting and 22 karat gold symbols and hieroglyphs. By integrating sacred patterning into the photographic landscape, Singh’s painted photographs update the traditional use of painting on images to a mode of spiritual exploration. The images are precariously balanced between contemporary reality and timeless tradition.

New York Times critic Roberta Smith observes, “These beautiful additions transform the images into deities…the results possess an entrancing nocturnal luminosity and combine the stylized naturalism of Indian miniatures with the symbolic geometry of Tantric art, while adding touches of contemporary self-awareness and humor.”

Informed by her earlier documentary style, Singh’s recent work engages the viewer by exposing not only her physical self but also her own psyche in juxtaposition to her subjects, which often include community members, religious icons, animals and architecture. These images are arranged into diptychs, triptychs and polyptychs that invoke psychological and spiritual narratives.

Singh’s work has been shown internationally, most recently in Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh at the Whitechapel Gallery, London and at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2010) and in Embellished Reality, Royal Ontario Museum of Art, Toronto, Canada (2012). Her work is held in the permanent collections of The Art Complex Museum of Duxbury, The Daimler Contemporary in Germany, The University of North Carolina, Ackland Museum of Art as well as many private collections worldwide.

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