Vasantha Yogananthan’s "Mystery Street" Observes Fleeting Moments of Childhood in New Orleans
Conducted in New Orleans, Vasantha Yogananthan's new project Mystery Street series bears witness to the prolific imagination of children in the warm and steamy atmosphere of the city in the middle of summer. Between documentary photography and fiction, Vasantha Yogananthan proposes an in-between, where reality offers a diversity of possible narratives.
There is a time in life, during the transition from childhood to adolescence – say between the ages of eight and twelve – when everything rapidly starts to change. This is the age of transience. Vasantha Yogananthan has already focused on this brief and transitory period of life in one of first series, on a beach in the Camargue region of southern France. As part of Immersion, a programme dedicated to contemporary photography of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, the photography dedicated to resume this exploration in New Orleans. The vivid memory of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city’s position below sea level, and the looming threat of water engulfing the city due to global warming, make it place where awareness of the transitory is particularly heightened. In Mystery Street, the child becomes a living metaphor for the core of the city.
Vasantha Yogananthan works with the very substance of the real. He is one fo those photographers whose intuition is their compass. He had no preconceived ideas when starting this project. He sees the act of photography as a means of learning about the world. His images are not illustrations of what he already knows, but opportunities for new insights. This was not about providing a philosophical, political or poetic concept through images. Instead, it involved discovering the subject while photographing. However, discovery is rarely the result of a decision. It is more likely to occur in situations of experimentation, play, chance; instability, or chanhe. For this reason, the transience of New Orleans and the age of these tiny moments of epiphany that the photographer was able to capture so magnificently.
Mystery Street, currently on view at The Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson was produced as part of Immersion, a French-American Photography Commission of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, in partnership with the Fondation HCB and the International Center of Photography.
A book of the same name is published by Chose Commune.