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Since 1985, the International Center of Photography has recognized outstanding achievements in photography with its prestigious Infinity Awards. The awards ceremony is also ICP’s primary fundraising benefit, with its revenues assisting the center's various programs.

Harbers Studios commissioned MediaStorm, on behalf of ICP, to create a short film about each of the recipients to screen at the awards ceremony and to display online. The films pay tribute to the contributions of each artist to the craft and field of photography and demonstrate ICP's commitment to them.

This year’s winner for “Emerging Photographer” is Vasantha Yogananthan, recognized for his ambitious project A Myth of Two Souls, a seven-book series that retells the Ramayana. Told largely through his original photographs with people from all over India, the project is an exploration of a tale that transcends myth to reality. Like the tale itself, Vasantha’s imagery blurs the lines between documentary and art, to create a story about India and the enduring legacy of the Ramayana on the national imagination and identity today.

Client: Harbers Studios, International Center of Photography
Published: April 24, 2017

The Challenge
Vasantha’s process has changed dramatically over the past five years; from a traditional documentarian to an artist who freely manipulates his images. As there was no one body of work that Vasantha was given the award for, it meant considering how to visually and thematically tie his work together in one story. In addition, we were cognizant that the story that has garnered the most recognition is A Myth of Two Souls, a retelling of the Indian epic, the Ramayana. His two notable works, Piémanson and A Myth of Two Souls, are radically different. One uses a pure documentary approach while the other blurs the lines between fact and fiction. Our challenge therefore was to both tie the two projects together and mimic Vasantha’s style, exploring the spaces in between.

The Solution
As his most recent body of work, A Myth of Two Souls, follows the mythic journey of Ram and Sita from the Ramayana, we thought it fitting to mirror Vasantha’s growth and change as an artist in the same fashion. The film is as much an extrapolation of Vasantha’s work as it is a story of how Vasantha has changed who he is as an artist over the years. We also worked with a voiceover artist to read passages from the Ramayana, allowing for a more visceral experience of Vasantha’s photographs. As a result, the film carries the same ethereal tone that emanates from the work itself.

The Results
The film premiered on April 24, 2017 at the ICP Infinity Awards Gala in Chelsea Piers, New York City. The films were the special feature of the evening and a critical fundraising tool.

About the Client
This film was a collaboration with Harbers Studio and the International Center of Photography.

Harbers Studios turbocharges the efforts of charitable entrepreneurs by helping them tell their stories. Our goal is to help them articulate and share the value of the work they do so they can inspire others to help them do it. Working with some of the best filmmaking talent in the world, Harbers Studios creates compelling visual narratives that enhance the endeavors of organizations working to make the world a better place.

The International Center of Photography (ICP) is the world’s leading institution dedicated to the practice and understanding of photography and the reproduced image in all its forms. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach, ICP offers an open forum for dialogue about the role images play in our culture. Since ICP’s founding, they have presented more than 500 exhibitions and offered thousands of classes, providing instruction at every level. ICP is a center where photographers and artists, students and scholars can create and interpret the world of the image within our comprehensive educational facilities and archive.

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“Vision & Justice” explores how photography has been weaponized to both denigrate and celebrate African American life. This publication honors the works of African American artists who seek to reframe the visual narrative. Watch it now.

In his retelling of the Indian epic the Ramayana, Vasantha Yogananthan explores the space between truth and fiction, merging documentary and fine art photography to create a story about how the myth impacts Indian society today. Watch it now.

By following the seemingly mundane bureaucratic paper trail of the War on Terror, Photographer Edmund Clark and investigator Crofton Black uncover secrets the government would rather keep hidden. Watch it now.

For Freedoms is the first artist-run Super PAC. The PAC was founded by photographers and artists to engage in the political process and offer more complex messages. Watch it now.

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