Siya Singh’s self-portraits are a pointed commentary on the changing identity of an urban Indian woman. They also serve to reflect on the inherent narcissism, which inhabits each of us. The metamorphosis of the child-like woman into a woman who is aware of herself and her sexuality subverts all preconceived notions of Indian femininity. In a milieu, which for the most part is unreceptive and suspicious of her androgynous looks, she pushes the boundaries of conformity through her instinctively ’raw’ images.
I began making auto-portraits when I became a subject for an artist book About Turn, representing the Indian contemporary woman. The night before the first shoot for the book, I decided to make a few auto-portraits and see who I was in the image. Who has the ultimate control over myself? What is the relationship I can create with the lens to communicate who I am within the image? Days turned into weeks and months exploring this unknown territory of who I was really? Do I have multiple personalities? Am I a self-voyeur? Or simply a narcissistic photographer?
It was exciting to turn the camera unto myself because this sort of control was a new experience for me. The connection with oneself and ones body became a powerful metaphor for what I could represent. The psychological and external self were two ideas, I wanted to base my control in order to make the images.
The images present not only fragments of my life, but on a deeper level, reveal my anxieties, desires and questions about my place in the society I live in. I was brought up to conform to certain ideals of femininity. My androgynous looks are contrary to the age-old notion of beauty in Indian society. Did I fit in then? What I couldn’t always negotiate in the way I lived, I could through the images I made. I began to explore the boundaries of my own conformity and freedoms as a young woman.
Exhibition projected at the Atelier des Forges, Parc des Ateliers.
Executive producer: Le Tambour Qui Parle.