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Arles 2017: The Promise by Vasantha Yogananthan shortlisted for the Author Book Award

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Promise is book two in Vasantha Yogananthan’s ambitious seven-book project, A Myth of Two Souls. Inspired by the epic story The Ramayana, which was written by the Sanskrit poet Valmiki in around 300 BC, The Myth will retrace The Ramayana’s route from North to South India, and show scenes from everyday life that evoke its imagery.
Yogananthan is producing one book for each chapter of the original story; he started the project with a book called Early Times, which helped him win the ICP Infinity Award Emerging Photographer of the Year. Book two, The Promise, has been nominated for the 2017 Author Book Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles (along with image-makers such as Antoine Agata, JH Engstrom, and Roe Ethridge).
Throughout The Myth, Yogananthan is working with three different types of image – landscapes, hand-painted staged portraits, and illustrated black-and-white photographs. The hand-painting is done on large-format black-and-white photographs by Indian artist Jaykumar Shankar. In the illustrated photographs, he has been working with two artists specialising in the tradition of Madhubani painting.
“In Yogananthan’s hands, The Ramayana story becomes a palimpsest, a document to be recycled, retooled and portrayed in exciting new ways,” wrote Brennavan Sritharan for BJP in an interview with Yogananthan published in our July 2016 issue. “The binary between truth and falsehood falls away, leaving behind a creative space in which to make new work.
‘I realised the distinction between truth and falsehood wasn’t important,’ says Yogananthan. ‘This was an important discovery for me, that this is where my photographs should lie – in this in-between world between physical reality and the imagined’.”
www.a-myth-of-two-souls.com www.vasantha.fr www.rencontres-arles.com

Foggy morning, Janakpur, Nepal, 2016. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Lovebird, Ramtek, India, 2015. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Sita Looking At Rama, Bangalore, India, 2016. Black-and-white C-print hand-painted by Jaykumar Shankar. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Rama Breaking The Bow, Bangalore, India, 2016. Black-and-white C-print hand-painted by Jaykumar Shankar. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Falling In Love, Janakpur, Nepal, 2016. Black-and-white C-print hand-painted by Jaykumar Shankar. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Work In Progress, Janakpur, Nepal, 2016. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Boy Playing Girl, Janakpur, Nepal, 2016. Black-and-white C-print hand-painted by Jaykumar Shankar. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Party Field, Janakpur, Nepal, 2016. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Seven Steps, Janakpur, Nepal, 2016. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
For Better Or Worse, Janakpur, Nepal, 2016. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
The Promise, Janakpur, Nepal, 2016. Black-and-white C-print hand-painted by Jaykumar Shankar. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Secret Door, Avani, India, 2016. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
Ayodhya Falling Apart, Ayodhya, India, 2015. Black-and-white C print hand-painted by Jaykumar Shankar. From The Promise © Vasantha Yogananthan
 

Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy

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