Vasantha Yogananthan
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A self-taught photographer, Vasantha Yogananthan was born in 1985 in Grenoble (France) to a French mother and a Sri-Lankan father. While creating his first long-term Piémanson (2009-2013), Yogananthan realised that good photography is linked to the passing of time. To him, a new project always starts with an intuition, and then time makes him understand what it is that he is looking to photograph and how. Coming back to Piémanson beach every summer for five years, his relationship with the land and its inhabitants deepened. Working with a film camera opened up an intuitive dialogue neither made of words nor images, because when one works analogue, one cannot see the pictures instantly. Yogananthan feels that analogue photography allows for life and art to coalesce in a creative space where the act of making pictures — for people on both side of the camera — can be realised to its fullest. This approach has stayed with him through the evolution of his practice.

Yogananthan co-founded the publishing house Chose Commune to publish Piémanson in 2014. He then moved onto the seven-book project A Myth of Two Souls (2013-2021) to explore the space between reality and fiction inspired by the epic Indian tale The Ramayana. A Myth of Two Souls is mostly composed of staged photographs created with a large format analogue camera. In this project Yogananthan has used hand-painted photography which made him understand on a deeper level how colours influence the way we read images. His colour palette has become as vital as the use of light and composition in his working process. A Myth of Two Souls received solo exhibitions at the Musée de l’élysée (Lausanne, 2019), the Chanel Nexus Hall (Tokyo, 2019), Deck (Singapore, 2020) and Belfast Photo Festival (2023). The project was also exhibited in group shows Illuminating India 1857-2017 at the Science Museum (London, 2017), Body Building at the Ishara Art Foundation (Dubai, 2019) and Energy: Sparks from the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 2023).

With his latest project Mystery Street (2022), Yogananthan makes a return to documentary photography, yet frees himself from prescriptions and pushes beyond the frame of tradition. Mystery Street works both as a conversation with the real and an escape into multiple narrative possibilities. Set under the burning sun of Louisiana, this body of work is a fable, it says something about reality, but uses crossroads. It is a comment on human behaviors and yet a transfiguration of the common. With Mystery Street, Yogananthan sees the possibility of a multiplicity of challenges, particularly in relation to the redefinition of his practice towards a post-documentary form. Mystery Street was exhibited at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation (Paris, 2023) and at the International Center of Photography (New York, 2023).

Yogananthan has received several awards, including the Prix Levallois (2016) and an ICP Infinity Award as Emerging Photographer of the Year (2017). That same year Yogananthan was selected in the FOAM Talents program. In 2019 and 2021, his books Dandaka and Amma were respectively awarded the Rencontres d’Arles Photo-Text Book Award and the Juror’s special mention at the Paris Photo Aperture Foundation Photobooks Award. In 2022, Yogananthan participated in Immersion, a French-American photography commission by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. In 2023, Mystery Street was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet (Geneva). Since 2020, Yogananthan has been working on a new project in the south of France supported by the CNAP (Paris), the DRAC (Marseille), the Fonds de dotation Vendredi Soir (Paris) and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (New York).

Yogananthan is represented by Jhaveri Contemporary (Mumbai), The Photographers’ Gallery Print Sales (London) and Assembly (Houston). His works is included in public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (Paris), the FRAC Sud (Marseille), the FRAC Bretagne (Rennes), The Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne) and the FOAM Museum (Amsterdam).