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Dominic Sansoni

Sri Lankan Photographer
Born 1956, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Lives and works in Colombo, Sri Lanka 

Dominic has been a professional photographer for over thirty years with an emphasis on documentary and travel assignments. His work captures the quintessential Sri Lankan images of architecture, festivals and public and domestic spaces, to showcase the breadth and richness of cultural heritage and contemporary lives on the island nation.

Education

1979

Creative Photography, West Surrey College of Art & Design, UK

1975

Cambridgeshire College of Arts & Technology, UK

1972

St. Peter’s College, Colombo, Sri Lanka

VIEW     Selected exhibitions     Text      Selected images      View all

LIFE AND WORK

UNDERSTANDING Dominic Sansoni

Photographs chronicle the vernacular

Dominic Sansoni’s photographs chronicle Sri Lankan architectural landscapes, vernacular objects, and religious festivals of Sri Lanka. He documents the country’s heritage cities and other sacred spaces, follows religious festivals and other paraphernalia of worship, as well as scenes of urban life, intimate domestic settings and wildlife.

His photographs convey a sense of great attention to composition and light. The compositions are marked by playfulness with juxtapositions of different objects within the image, while light and colour play a crucial role in defining the whole image. His image of the Saint Anthony’s Festival in Colombo directs towards a florally decorated statue in the background marking the ritualistic sacred space while in the foreground a young boy stand in a shirt with a pop image.

Dominic Sansoni. Saint Anthony’s Festival, Colombo.

Sacred spaces frequently appear in his photographs

One of his recent personal projects has been the study of the sacred spaces in Sri Lanka. His fascination with these spaces points towards the importance of religious icons and rituals in daily life.

He explains in his blog why he is interested in this particular object, “Sacred Space nearly always has its own charm. It carries with it mystery, remembrance, and faith. A written prayer, a founder’s portrait washed by rain, seating for the absent faithful, jasmine-petals strewn under the soot of oil lamps. What is heartening is to see a space shared by different religions -- a Buddhist flag next to a Catholic shrine, or a Hindu devale in the premises of a Buddhist temple – which, for me, symbolizes the underlying and older unity of our island.”

Dominic Sansoni. From the Sacred Spaces series, 2011.

Dominic Sansoni. From the Sacred Spaces series, 2011.

Photographing the intimate space of home

Dominic’s curiosity of idiosyncratic settings of homes and how people live has fuelled his project of documenting these intimate spaces. He takes the personal spaces of the home and makes it visually public, while at the same time, the spaces are still marked within personal boundaries that others are not allowed to intrude. These projects also fuel a sociological understanding of what the fabric of family and society constitutes of.

His project “Vernacular Architecture of South India”, documented the SOS Children’s Villages in Tamil Nadu in India where he was on a project of documentary photography for the SOS Children’s Villages in the state of Tamil Nadu and “The Jaffna Home” records the interiors of homes in the Jaffna peninsula during the conflict and since the ending of the conflict. The transitions from a conflict state to the rebuilding state become an interesting commentary on the human condition and impact of conflict.

Dominic Sansoni, The Jaffna Home, 2012.

Dominic Sansoni. From Vernacular architecture of south India series.

Travels and documents places away from Sri Lanka

Dominic also works as a freelance photographer, and has been involved with destination photography projects for Singapore Airlines, Air Lanka, etc. He is also involved in documentary photography for SOS children’s village, due to which he has gotten the chance to work in places like Yemen, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bolivia, among others. His work is regularly published by the Editions Didier Millet of Singapore, in a series titled A week in the life of…., where he was flown to different locations for a week’s time to work and explore. Under this, the artist has to his credit around seven books, chronicling seven different locations.

Dominic Sansoni, Destination Photography: Vizag, India.

Sensitivity and hope reside in his war photojournalism

The artist also freelanced as a photojournalist with Asia Week Magazine from 1987 to 2005, where most of his work involved travel to interior parts of Sri Lanka during the conflict years. These together make an interesting series of war photographs, displaying myriad human emotions of despair, loss and yet, hope residing amongst all such brutality. The series was displayed as part of the show titled “War and Peace in Sri Lanka” along with other FCA Photojournalists, at the Barefoot Gallery, Colombo.

Dominic Sansoni, From the War and peace in Sri Lanka series, 2004.