Afterlife is the sixth chapter of Vasantha Yogananthan’s long-term project A Myth of Two Souls inspired by the epic tale The Ramayana.
Drawing inspiration from the imagery associated with this myth and its pervasiveness in everyday Indian life, Vasantha Yogananthan has retraced the legendary route from north to south India. A Myth of Two Souls is informed by the notion of a journey in time and space and offers a modern retelling of the tale.
Afterlife is centered around the bloody war between the army of Ravana and the army of Rama. As its title suggests, the chapter deals with death and reincarnation. With Rama’s cruelty finally revealed, the series can be read as a visual exploration of one man’s descent into the darkness of the soul. Although the pictures were shot in Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu over two editions of Dussehra — the Indian festival celebrating the victory of good over evil — they do not document the festivities. They focus on the trance people try to reach night after night, as if during one week they were allowed to escape their bodies to become somebody else.
The multimedia installation exhibited at DECK was created in close collaboration with film maker Philippe Calia and sound designer Samar Grewal.
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Born in 1985, Vasantha Yogananthan lives and works in Paris. His photographic practice addresses the space between documentary and fiction.
His projects are developed over long periods of time and he only works analog – with both wide-format 4×5 and medium-format 6×7 cameras. Besides the aesthetic, he is deeply attached to film photography for its slow – almost philosophical – process.
Over the years, Vasantha Yogananthan has developed a distinctive color palette based on natural light. His interest in painting is in the nature of portrait, landscape and still life. In his project A Myth of Two Souls (2013-2019), he has been working with a local Indian artist to revive the tradition of hand-painting. The more his practice grows, the more he perceives photography as a malleable material open to interpretations.
The book has been central to his work since the beginning. In 2014, he co-founded the publishing house Chose Commune and published his first book, Piemanson. In his books, he interweaves staged photography with scenes from the everyday life, thus exploring different forms of photographic storytelling. His project A Myth of Two Souls will be published in seven books (2016-2020) by Common Thing. The first four chapters, Early Times, The Promise, Exile and Dandaka have already been published.
Vasantha Yogananthan has received several awards, among which the IdeasTap Magnum Photos Award (2015), The Levallois Award (2016), and an ICP Infinity Award as Emerging Photographer of the Year (2017). That same year was also selected among the 20 FOAM Talents.