Vasantha Yogananthan has had a busy few years: after winning the IdeasTap/Magnum Photos Award in 2015, he went on to collect the Prix Levallois (in 2016) and an ICP Infinity Award (Emerging Photographer of the Year, 2016); he was also named a FOAM Talent and chosen as Fiona Rogers’ Juror’s Pick in the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017.
Yogananthan received many of these accolades in response to his seven-year-long project, A Myth of Two Souls, a series of seven books that is a photographic retelling of The Ramayana. This ancient Indian epic poem recounts the journey of Rama, a divine prince, as he seeks to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana.
Starting in 2013, Yogananthan followed the narrative laid out in The Ramayana, traveling across India’s landscape and photographing the country’s contemporary landscape through the “lens” of this epic. Yogananthan released the first book in his series, Early Times, in 2016. The Promise and Exile, books two and three, followed a year later. This spring, Yogananthan is preparing to release the fourth book in the series, titled Dandaka.
At Les Rencontres d’Arles last summer, LensCulture caught up with Yogananthan for a conversation about the third book in the series (Exile, published on September 1, 2017), and the themes that have stood the test of time over the centuries: love, family, brotherhood, and more.
If you’d like to learn more about this remarkable project, you can read this in-depth interview with Vasantha conducted by LensCulture managing editor Alexander Strecker. Vasantha has also created a dedicated website for this project, where you can see more images and purchase the first three photobooks.
Editors’ note: Vasantha Yogananthan was a Juror’s Pick in the Portrait Awards 2017. This year’s Portrait Awards are open for entries! Enter now for the opportunity to exhibit your work at Photo London and in Arles this summer.