Photobooks have been booming for the last ten years or so but one prize has been there for the last 49 years – Les Prix du Livre at Arles, which was set up at the same time as the Rencontres d’Arles festival. With its long history and prestigious jury, which is this year overseen by FOAM director Marloes Krijnen, the Prix du Livre are some of the best-respected in photography.
Three Prix are up for grabs in three categories this year – the Historical Book Award, the Author Book Award, and the Photo-text Book Award, each of which come with a €6000 prize to be shared between the photographers and their publishers. The books are on show at Arles until 23 September, and the winners will be announced in the opening week.
Foam Talent returns to London, with an exhibition of forward-thinking photographers under the age of 35 including Alinka Echeverria (UK/Mexico), Weronika Gęsicka (Poland), Namsa Leuba (Switzerland/Guinea), Erik Madigan Heck (USA), Viacheslav Poliakov (Ukraine), Harit Srikhao (Thailand), and Vasantha Yogananthan (France). This year 1790 artists responded to Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam’s annual talent call, and the 20 selected photographers were picked out for their experimental approaches to the medium. The new generation of artists explore a variety of subjects, says Foam, including several photographers openly denouncing the totalitarian regimes of their countries.
“In Centralia, Poulomi Basu continues to focus her gaze on the interrelation between violence, state power, and gender,” says Monica Allende, member of the jury for the PHM grant. “By intertwining multilayered fictional narratives she aims to challenge the viewer’s perception of reality, as well as established neocolonialist histories. “In an era of post-truth and fake news, where we battle for control of “official” narratives, Basu’s work forces us to reflect on our own prejudices and educated preconceptions. Despite addressing such complex issues, the work is both illuminating and engaging – a testament to her innate ability as a documentarian. The result is a beautifully executed story which is thoroughly deserving of the winning grant.”
Running since 2013, the PHM Grant has a reputation for finding interesting new photographers such as Max Pinckers, Tomas van Houtryve, and Salvatore Vitale. Now the 35-strong shortlist for the 2018 has been announced, with the winners due to be announced on 08 May and four prizes up for grabs – a first, second and third in the main award, plus a New Generation Prize. Each winner gets a cash prize plus a publication on World Press Photo’s Witness, a projection at Cortona On The Move and at Just Another Photo Festival, and promotion via PHmuseum. The jury handing out the awards is made up of photography specialists – Genevieve Fussell, senior photo editor at The New Yorker; Roger Ballen, photographer and artist; Emilia Van Lynden, artistic director of Unseen; and Monica Allende, independent photo editor and cultural producer. The jury is able to give Honourable Mentions, up to six in the main prize, and up to three in the New Generation Prize.
The last time we spoke to Vasantha Yogananthan he was preparing to release chapter one of his hugely ambitious seven-part project A Myth of Two Souls. A project that he started in 2013 with his first trip to India, the collection is a photographic re-imagining of one of the most significant Hindu texts, the epic poem Ramayana. Dating back to the 4th century, the Ramayana still holds tremendous significance in India, with its allegorical, mythical stories helping convey concepts such as love, duty, violence, loyalty and divinity. Yogananthan had always been familiar with the Ramayana growing up – his Sri Lankan father told him stories from it during his youth in Grenoble, France, and he picked up comic book adaptations of it as a teenager. But it was only when he visited India that he realised just how interwoven the analogies presented in Ramayana are with the experience of everyday life on the subcontinent, and just how thin the line can be between mythology and reality.
Illuminating India: Photography 1857-2017, is the first exhibition to document the history of photography in India, and includes both archive and contemporary work. It includes images by India’s first known photographer Ahmad Ali Khan, pioneering art photographer Marahaja Ram Singh II, the country’s first female photojournalist, Homai Vyarawalla; and award-winning contemporary photographers such Magnum’s Sohrab Hura. It also includes images of India taken by non-Indians, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Werner Bischof, Margaret Bourke White, Lucien Hervé, Mitch Epstein, Vasantha Yogananthan, and Olivia Arthur.
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 …
When Vasantha Yogananthan was a child growing up in France his Sri Lankan father would tell him stories from the Hindu epic poem the Ramayana. Tales of heroism, filial duty and love full of magic, allegory and divinity, these stories were at the time just that – stories. But when Yogananthan first visited India in 2013, he came face-to-face with the pervasiveness of myth and legend on the subcontinent. In a land steeped in ancient history, folklore and veracity are deeply intertwined, and attempting to disentangle the two can be futile. Eventually, Yogananthan decided to stop trying. Historians and archaeologists estimate the composition of the Ramayana to the 4th century, and it is at once a foundation stone of Indian literature, one of Hinduism’s key texts, and a model for familial relationships. It follows the journey of Prince Rama, who travels the length of the country to get his wife, Sita, back when she is abducted by the demon Ravana. It’s a complex story, and its characters have become embodiments of virtue and honour in Indian society, but the story touches …
“This story you cannot tell, only recording the work as it is,” says photographer Vasantha Yogananthan. In a black blazer, black jeans, black cardigan and a floral shirt, Vasantha Yogananthan is as mellifluous as his photography. Scans of these – slate and rainbow squares on cream paper – lie fanned on the table. The 29-year-old Paris-based photographer has just gained the resources to develop his epic seven-book project, A Myth of Two Souls, which we discuss at the BJP office in Old Street, London. He’s won a £5,000 grant in the international category of the IdeasTap and Magnum Photographic Award, after finishing in the top three of 823 applicants. He is in a good mood. “The challenge is: how do you tell this story for people in the West?” says Yogananthan, whose mother is French and father is Sri-Lankan. “People will see the pictures and miss what the project is about. We are working on finding an editorial strategy where we can invite the audience to discover India the same way I am discovering it.” The project is to …