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 behaviors 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.
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.
Photographs: Vasantha Yogananthan
Texts: Taous Dahmani & Vasantha Yogananthan, Clément Chéroux & Agnès Sire
Editorial direction: Cécile Poimboeuf-Koizumi