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Pamela Singh’s photographs form an extended, entrancing journal tantamount to a waking dream, a search for affirmation of self within our perceived yet speculative world. Singh’s images combine self-portraiture with reflective contemplation and ethereal transformation. From her beginnings in documentary photography at ICP in New York her work reflects her lifelong quest for spirituality as seen in the glowing and emotive series, Tantric Self Portraits (2001-2001). These mixed-media pieces were shown in a solo exhibition in New York and received acclaim from The New York Times and The New Yorker. In a review of Tantric Self Portraits, Roberta Smith states, “ . . . the best [images] 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.” (New York Times, June 1, 2001)
Singh studied at the Parson School of Design and the International Center for Photography in New York City. She first came into the field of photography as a technician, working in a darkroom from the age of thirteen. Only in her twenties did she actually begin using the camera professionally, as a photojournalist. She worked in India, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and East and Central Africa reporting on civil wars and on social issues which were published in newspapers and magazines such as The Independent of London, The Sunday Times, Marie Claire, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Paris Match, and Photo to name a few. Her early work was also included in India: A Celebration of Independence 1947-1997, organized with an essay by Victor Anant and published by Aperture. The exhibit was shown at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and travelled worldwide. Singh’s work also appeared in a group show titled Black and White: What has Independence Meant for Women? sponsored by the Ford Foundation which travelled throughout India.
In the late 90’s the artist's work took a more personal and decidedly spiritual turn when she began a two-year project photographing the Hindu and Buddhist temple interiors at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. In this “pre-selfie” world, she spent her days wandering through old world cities, inserting herself within the daily life of the townspeople. Utilizing traditional painting techniques, Singh’s photographs sprout magical enhancements, religious iconography, and colorful details. What were once photographs are now bejeweled narratives of her enchanted world.
Pamela Singh’s work is shown internationally, most recently in Divine Bodies at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (2018) and previously 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 Sackler Freer Museums at the Smithsonian, The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and The Ackland Museum of Art at The University of North Carolina, as well as in many prestigious private collections worldwide.