The first album was given to her in 1949 by a boarding school teacher. It has a hand-painted cover with the title, Glimpses of the Past, elegantly inscribed on it. At the time, Nony was just a teenager, but had been taking photographs from the age of seven: she used her father’s camera to photograph her mother on a family picnic. A few years later, she persuaded her mother to don a shirt, trousers and shower cap and pose as a policeman with a baton in hand. This penchant for the idiosyncratic pose has remained with Nony all her life. When Nony got married at the age of 22, her father-in-law gifted his Zeiss Ikon camera to her. Over the years, Nony would go on to take thousands of photographs of her friends and family, especially of her four daughters, collecting negatives and albums in an ever growing archive.
Nony Singh’s The Archivist is a collection of photographs of and by her family. The book is divided into sections titled ‘Photographs of Nony Singh from her albums’ and ‘Photographs by Nony Singh from her albums’. These headings signify her position both behind and in front of the lens — the observer and the observed. The title of the collection is cognisant of the function of photography as documentation and preservation of a particular moment.” It is, of course, how Nony looked at her world and, in turn that takes us into the realm of photographic and archiving discourses. In her interview, she explained “I capture pictures because I feel that this moment will never come back. And these moments of my life have sustained me through the harshness of life”. What better insurance could a talented photographer ask for?
Hardcover: 114 pages
Publisher: Dreamvilla Production (2013)