Amma (‘Mother’ in Tamil language) is the seventh and last chapter of Vasantha Yogananthan’s ambitious long-term project inspired by the Indian legend of The Ramayana. First recorded by the Sanskrit poet Valmiki around 300 BC, the epic tale The Ramayana has been continuously rewritten and reinterpreted and still continues to evolve today. In his work, Yogananthan draws inspiration from the imagery associated with the myth and its pervasiveness in everyday Indian life, retracing the legendary route from north to south India and offering a modern retelling of the tale.

The last chapter of the project, Amma, is centered around the princess Sita and deals with the concept of ‘purity’. The pictures composing Amma take us from the seacoast of Sri Lanka, to the city of Ayodhya to the jungle of Bihar, India. Composed exclusively of color prints hand-painted by the artist with inks and acrylic gouache, their chromatic scale recreate a world where civilization gradually disappears to leave room to a purely metaphysical space.

Working exclusively in analog, using large or medium format cameras that intentionally slow down the creative process, Yogananthan’s projects are generally developed over long periods of time and harness a distinctive color palette based on natural light. Juxtaposing color and hand-painted photography, Amma interweaves fictional and historical stories, old and new traditions and offers a lyrical photographic reimagining of a classic tale and sits somewhere between documentary, fiction, mythology and reality.

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