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John Mandeen



Aurovici, a young French Aurovilian, born and raised here in the township, shows his stunning, large sized photographs for the first time in Auroville's Pitanga Hall . The exhibition started on the 12th of November '02 which is a very special day for him: his birthday.

Artistic environment

Aurovici grew up in an artistic environment. His mother is a graphic artist whose colourful contributions to Auroville's daily life are a well appreciated phenomenon, and his father was an interior decorator, painter and architect.

Aurovici's keen interest in photography started when he was nine years old, when he got his first camera from his mother. It was one of those old Fuji waterproofed, things and she was not too scared to lend it to him. To this day, he still has kept the very first roll he took in black & white. Although he didn't do much more with the camera at that time, it definitely served to catch his imagination and he knew that this was what he wanted to do.


In 1987 he went to Auroville's 'Last School' , which had just then opened. There he met John Mandeen, a seasoned photographer who had volunteered to teach the students photography, and Aurovici was one of the lucky few to be chosen to study with him. John taught the kids composition, black & white lab, the techniques to develop one's own films, the printing, and everything about the camera itself, the various lenses and film types.

So, in 1988 Aurovici shot an enormous amount of films and unfortunately lost almost all of them: he kept them in a briefcase which he left unattended on his bicycle when going for an errand. When he returned they were gone. So, from this fruitful period he has just three rolls left.

Further studies

In 1989 Aurovici left for Kodaikanal International School, where he attended another basic photography course, which motivated him to start shooting again.
Having graduated from Kodai school, Aurovici then went to Maastricht, a place in the south of Holland, where he studied English literature for a year. Subsequently he did his military service in France. After leaving the army, Aurovici turned his focus towards osteopathy, and studied in London for four years to then come back home to Auroville to put his thus gained knowledge into practice. This was around the beginning of the new century and appreciated by many of the Auroville residents.

Back in Auroville

Upon his return, Aurovici started practicing osteopathy and later joined the Auroville Working Committee and Development Group. But his love for photography started coming up again. After completing his six months commitment to the Working Committee, he decided to put his involvement with the Development Group on hold as well in order to turn his full attention to his true passion, photography.

The exhibition

His present exhibition clearly shows the main topics of Aurovici's interest: he leans towards the depiction of landscapes, still life and architectural details in black & white as well as in colour. Aurovici now shoots with a Hasselblad, a camera with professional 6 x 6 cm sized negatives, which allows for his preferred large square format and the original sharpness. As there are as yet no colour lab facilities in Auroville, he has to go to Madras for the printing. With the black & white shots he continues to experiment in his own lab in his house in Auromodele.

19th century techniques

Aurovici intends to explore in depth the old photographic techniques from the 19th century, from the beginning of the age of photography. He wants to get into things like daguerrotypes, albumen printing, salt printing, Van Dyke prints, Kallitypes, cyanotypes and palladium/platinum printing and play with all the different kind of photographic papers available. He also wants to experiment with the various chemicals and their mixtures that are involved in the development and printing process as a tool to obtain highly specific results.

Philosophy and inspiration

Aurovici's aim is to produce a beautiful image, beautiful in tone, colour and composition. What drives him is the search for visual perfection; he wants to make the viewer dream. He doesn't mind looking at pictures from wars, showing crude scenes that are brutal but real. He does not take these images lightly and it is not his intention to shock his viewers, but he does attempt to evoke a reaction in people.
During his occasional travels to Europe he gets inspiration, while also benefiting from the large source of information about other photographers available from public libraries and bookshops. This influx of inspiration enormously helps him in developing his own concepts, and adds a spark to his creative imagination, gradually enlarging the parameters of his own creative unfolding.


Aurovici's evident potential for growth in the photographic field, his curiosity and interest in the myriad possibilities of digital photography and his general wide-angle outlook on life give us reasons to look forward to his future development. We'll be happy to share it with you in these pages.

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