Paris Photo is epic, but beyond the Grand Palais there’s a plethora of other photo-related events in the French capital. For those interested in photobooks there are two essential book fairs – Offprint and Polycopies, both showcasing some of the most interesting new work in photography and beyond; there is also a week-long photo focus at the world-famous Left Bank bookshop Shakespeare & Co.
Laia Abril, Nina Berman, Sohrab Hura, and Carmen Winant are all in the running for the prestigious Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation Photobook of the Year Award, which will be announced on 09 November at Paris Photo.
In total ten books have been shortlisted for the award; in addition, 20 books have been shortlisted for the First Photobook, and five for the Photography Catalogue of the Year. All the shortlisted books will go on show at Paris Photo and at the Aperture Foundation in New York, then tour to various venues across Europe, as well as being featured in the Autumn 2018 issue of The Photobook Review. In addition the Photobook of the Year winner will receive $10,000.
“Assume the form of a golden deer and lure Rama away. Meanwhile I will run away with Sita,” commands Ravana, the ten-headed King of Lanka, to one of his demon slaves in the ancient Indian epic poem, the Ramayana. Ravana’s plan is to entice Sita, the beautiful goddess, and steal her away from Prince Rama. While the golden deer distracts the prince, Ravana disguises himself as a holy man begging for money; and when Sita reaches out to offer him food, he catches her and carries her away to his kingdom. This scene marks a pivotal point in the Ramayana, a story believed to have been written over 2000 years ago by Valmiki, a celebrated poet in Sanskrit literature. It is the narrative that Vasantha Yogananthan is following in his ambitious seven-part photographic project, A Myth of Two Souls, which is now on its fourth chapter, Dandaka. He’s found a different way to convey the story in each chapter, and for this one, wanted to push himself further out of his comfort zone. For previous books he …
While most photographers value their time behind the camera, Alexandra Catiere’s love for the craft lives in the darkroom. “For me, the beauty of a picture doesn’t lie in the beauty of the subject matter,” she says. “I’m more interested in pushing the boundaries of printmaking, and how far you can go from reality.”
Catiere always knew she wanted to become an artist, and in photography found a craft that was both independent and experimental. “Taking pictures is fascinating, but for me, it’s not enough,” she says. When she was 21, she built a darkroom in the bathroom of her house in Minsk, Belarus, where she spent most of her time developing photographs of still lifes, seeing how far she could push a gelatin surface.
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.
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.
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 …