Q&A: Vasantha Yogananthan



Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? ​I do in a way as I’m currently studying the Ramayana, masterpiece of world literature written in Sanskrit over two thousand years ago, it is to the Asian civilisation what Homer’s Odyssey is to the European civilisation. Its author, Valmiki, is also known as the « Indian Shakespeare ». More than a journey, Indians draw from this text, which conveys moral and philosophical values, an ideal to which they measure their own existence. My new project aims to photograph the « Indian soul » and capture the distinctive nature of this continent country, guided by the Odyssey of the Ramayana as a common thread. Make a prediction for the future. ​Analog photography will not die. Your favorite painter? Hard question. I’ve been looking a lot to Friedrich (I know, it’s a bit common for a photographer !), and more lately to the figurative landscapes of Gerhard Richter.

What is it that interests you about photography? ​That it pushes you to think about how humans inhabit this world.​ What is the worst thing about city life? ​Living inside rather than outside.​ What part of the planet would you like to explore ​I’d love to explore remote places either where people have a unique link to the mountains or the sea (or both – let’s dream). On the wish list : Nepal. Pick A Field Of Science To Be An Expert Within? ​History (is it considered as a Field Of Science?)​ What Was The Last Crime You Witnessed? Not witnessed but overheard when I was off to the french countryside last week : the mass killing of chicken in large​ agribusiness. What Is The Next Book You Want To Read? ​Anna Karénine, ​Tolstoï.

Summer Or Winter? ​Summer to photograph, winter to snowboard. Ultimate Camera? Large format 8×10 – but I’ve never tried it so far. Most Used Camera? ​Medium Format Mamiya 7 II​. What Object Do You Want? ​Photobooks and more photobooks. What Object Do You Need? Do we really need objects? Who Would You Never Work For, No Matter How Much They Offered To Pay? Probably a political party. Describe A Cheap Thrill. Driving a lot all day long and finding “one last picture” you were not expecting before it gets dark. Who Would You Most Like To See Embarrass Themselves? ​Politicians but they are already doing it.

Pick An Historic Moment From The Last Hundred Years To Bring A Camera To. ​Sri-Lankan civil war. I’m not at all a war photographer but I’m half tamil and the end of this conflict is one the biggest tragedy in our recent history – even if most of the people have never heard of it. Which Talent Would You Most Like To Have? ​I’m actually quite happy with photography and writings. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? A​nalog photography? What is your plan for the next 24 hours? ​Keep studying the Ramayana as I’m going back to India in October and have to get ready for it!​

Vasantha Yogananthan – From the series Piémanson.