Chose Commune / Fondation Hermès. First edition. Softcover, 164 pp., color illustrated, 265 x 295 mm. Photographs by Vasantha Yogananthan. Text by Taous Dahmani, Vasantha Yogananthan, Clément Chéroux, Agnès Sire. Design by Bureau Kayser.
Mystery Street begins and ends with children. Children playing, beaming and daydreaming. Children becoming. In his first North-American series, French photographer Vasantha Yogananthan stands next to the youth and gazes at their level.
With this project, Yogananthan makes a return to documentary photography, yet frees himself from prescriptions and pushes beyond the frame of tradition. Mystery Street works both as a conversation with the real and an escape into multiple narrative possibilities. If this body of work is mainly composed of portraits, Yogananthan’s preferred genre, it is not intended as a comprehensive portrait of New Orleans. Set under the burning sun of Louisiana, this body of work is a fable, it says something about reality, but uses crossroads. It is a comment on human behaviours and yet a transfiguration of the common.
Fragments of a lingering summer, Mystery Street provides us with a minimum of information about space, time, or place, aware of how some figuration bears great weight. In an effort to suspend or avoid overdetermination, he invites viewers to be caught by their own expectations. A turning point in Vasantha Yogananthan’s practice, Mystery Street takes a caring look at kinship, at the intersection of body and environment.
This body of work will be shown at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation (Paris) from May to September 2023 and at the International Center of Photography (New York City) from September 2023 to January 2024. It was produced as part of Immersion, a French-American Photography Commission of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, in partnership with the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson and the International Center of Photography.