News |Villa Fellow Senthuran Varatarajah on Instagram

The author Senthuran Varatharajah from Berlin has been a Fellow at Villa Aurora since the beginning of October. Over the next couple of weeks he will take our Instagram channel for a spin. To start, he answered a few questions.

You joined Instagram as @svaratharajah in spring of 2017 and from the very beginning, your account has exhibited a certain stringency seldom found in other accounts at the beginning: It’s basically architecture photography, street photography. People cannot be found in any of these pictures. They appear melancholic. This corresponds to the characterization of your writing style in „Vor der Zunahme der Zeichen“ (Fischer 2016) by some reviewers as strict, controlled and creating a sensation of silence. Do your texts and photos share a common poetry?

I am not a photographer. When I started posting on Instagram, I asked myself if it might be possible to take pictures in the same way that I write. If it might be possible to translate what is essential to my style – my relationship to language – into photographs. So it is evident: These pictures possess the same poetry as my texts. They could have been extracted from them.

The photos are accompanied by short captions, some (or all?) of which are quoted from song lyrics. How do pictures and captions come together?

All captions are quoting lyrics and album titles. They are tracks and albums I was listening to when I took the picture. So they are making a statement about the picture. They are not complementing it, but are part of it, part of the conditions of its genesis. The track or album made me perceive a certain motive, made me receptive to it.

It is hard to separate private and professional use of social media, especially for freelancers and even more so for you, since your novel is a conversation on Facebook. In your profile, you describe yourself as a novelist. In what way does your use of Instagram merge into your profession as a novelist?

I believe Instagram made me more attentive. I perceive my environment in other ways: I see it in a different way, as a different enactment. This changes my work instantaneously. In the same way that pictures developed from texts, texts develop from these pictures. 

What is your favorite Instagram filter?

I never use filters. Saturation, sharpness, and contrast – those are the only things I change.

Senthuran Varatharajah | Photo: Elif Kücük

Senthuran Varatharajah fled with his family to Germany at the age of four months. He studied philosophy, theology and cultural studies in Marburg, Berlin and London. In 2016 he published his debut novel "Vor der Zunahme der Zeichen" (S. Fischer). Among others it was awarded with the 3Sat Prize at the "38th Days of German-Language Literature", the Alfred Doblin Fellowship of the Berlin Academy of Arts, the Berlin Senate Fellowship, the Kranichsteiner Literaturförderpreis, the Bremer Literaturförderpreis, the Chamisso Award and the Rauriser Literaturpreis.


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