Today our world is changing at a pace unparalleled in human history and the conditions of states around the world are getting re-defined by constantly shifting social, political, and economic forces. In my work I investigate both natural and built environments and their interrelationship. I am particularly drawn toward certain transient zones within urban environments, where dualities of chaos and order, death and revitalization, and spectacular and banal constantly refer to our transforming world, both physically and metaphorically.
I started this work in 2004 to make typological studies in several European cities. My most poignant experience was in India where I saw that the harmony between the city’s form and the surrounding rural landscape was being constantly compromised by massive sub-urbanization, migrant influx, and heightened public consumption. Linked by the concept that few places in this world have been spared the indelible stamp of some form of human intervention, I began taking photographs of former industrial sites in New York’s Catskills in 2005. A similar re-negotiation of the landscape, economics, and social planning exists in the once prosperous region.
What is left behind? Maybe a lot more than abandoned factories and warehouses. Decay moves fast. One can see it in the few downtown pubs on Friday nights or Monday afternoons. But here I chose to be rather selective in my mappings, with an attempt to document the ‘present’ based on the signifiers of the ‘past’ without being seduced by the inherent phantasmagoric charms of antiquity. These often overlooked voids, in their splendid disunity, mirror the alienation and vulnerability of our society. The buildings also reveal the various layers of time endured by a place; as if enshrining a conversation between death and desire.
My photographs are not statements of any kind, but rather inquiries into the complexities of living in our present environment.
Rishi Singal, a native of India, has been living and working in upstate New York since attending Syracuse University where he completed his MFA. His work has been shown at venues in China, India, and will be featured in an upcoming show at Light Work in Syracuse. Rishi has presented talks at Ithaca College, Syracuse University, the 2003 SPE convention, and will be lecturing at the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University later this year. Rishi has been honored by grants and fellowships from Syracuse University, SUNY College at Brockport, and most recently, Light Work.
Rishi Singhal was an artist in residence at CPW in September 2005.