Karla Hiraldo Voleau
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland
a
Selection of Editorial.
Miscellaneous Selection, 2017–22

Miscellaneous picks from 2017 to today.

Clients : New York Times, Rimowa, W Magazine, Dazed x Calvin Klein, Vogue Italy, Glamcult, Die Zeit, Das Magazin, NZZ, Republik Magazin, Libération, Usage Magazine, Malaika Raiss, Louise Damas, Kozha Numbers, 360 Magazine, Causette Magazine, Philosophie Magazine, Esteban Cortazar, Swiss Office for Culture, La Ligne Bleue Records, and more.

b
Another Love Story.
Performing Intimacy, 2022

Another Love Story reveals her most personal work to date. Initially, the project was conceived as a romantic tribute to love, describing how the artist and a previous partner (known as ‘X’ for anonymity) found their way back to each other after a four-year separation.

The project was then radically reimagined when she discovered that X had a double life and was living with another woman. The revelations prompted a profound disruption of her inner and outer world. She was left confronting the difficult reality of finding herself dispossessed in her own story. “Things were starting to not feel right,” explains Hiraldo Voleau. This led her to call his ex-girlfriend, (in the script ‘Elle’), out of the blue. It was one year after we got back together, and I wanted to ask her why she was still in contact with my boyfriend. She replied, ‘Well, he’s my boyfriend too. I live with him. I’ve been his girlfriend for four years. We are trying to have a baby’.”

In an attempt to reconcile this trauma and reclaim her story, Hiraldo Voleau metabolises the break-up by retelling it. Using a combination of original images and re-enactments created with an actor, she visualises the transformation from the couple’s initial explosion of love and sensuality, to the painful distance and tension as things fall apart. Together these fragments of the relationship become proof of its existence. Hiraldo Voleau initially worked with an actor for legal reasons, but the act of making the work together ultimately emancipated her from her former lover.

“Every image where you see X’s face, I remade,” explains Hiraldo Voleau. “The images where you don’t see his face are the original photograph. It’s about 80 per cent reconstruction, 20 per cent true. It was important to include the original images as it further blurs the notion of a double life and multiple fictions and realities. Discovering that your partner has a double life makes you question everything. You start wondering who’s who? Who was this man? What was real? My only way to move forward was to reclaim my voice and my narrative by making this project.” Another Love Story is presented chronologically in 13 panels of images, one for each month of the rekindled romance. Mimicking an Instagram feed, Hiraldo Voleau reflects upon the staging of love and photography’s slippery role as the unreliable witness. It lays bare the social contract to memorialise our relationships online, the pressure to perpetuate perfection and the chokehold of keeping up appearances. In the spaces between each panel, we gain access to Hiraldo Voleau’s dramatic and revelatory conversation with A. Presented as a script, it complicates and contradicts the images while reinforcing the performative nature of romance. On the surface, Another Love Story is about unlikely personal transformations and what drives people to heal, reclaim themselves and bounce back after heartbreak. But the project’s real work teases out the visceral and vital agency of women’s desire and pain and how talking about it is perhaps the primary way to survive it.

Extract from the British Journal of Photography Love / Ukraine issue, 2022 – written by Gem Fletcher.
Installation views from solo show at Maison Européenne de la Photographie. Paris, 2022.

c
A Man in Public Space.
Performative Photography, 2020

I set up an experiment.

I walked in the public space of my city (Lausanne, Switzerland), as for a week I transformed myself into a cis man, into my male alter ego. With the help of make-up, wigs, prosthetics, clothes, I slipped into the skin of another, of my other. I followed men, and I copied their postures, their body language. Trying to decipher what is this ‘masculine attitude’, this ‘masculine body’ often referred to, stereotyped, full of obsolete codes.

This project mixing performance, documentation (b&w images), texts and self portraits, is the result of an experience that is personal, clearly set up in time and space. It is not meant to define a general male or female experience, just mine, last year, for a moment. In the streets, in front of the mirror, I searched for answers: how looking like 'the opposite sex' will influence my attitude and my body in space? How will others look at me?

Installation images: Biennale de l'Image Possible (BIP). Liège, Belgium, 2020 + Photofestival Urbi & Orbi. Sedan, France, 2021 + Swiss Design Awards. Art Basel, 2022.

d
I Have Nothing to Tell You.
Photographs and Installation, 2019–20

For the Recommended scholarship, Karla Hiraldo Voleau went on a trip, this time to Japan. Initially, she was intrigued by modes of dating such as renting boyfriends among young women in that country, or by digital dating modes, by love that can be bought ... In short, the capitalisation of love - all topics that are an extension of his still young work.

In practice, it proved difficult to get in touch with women willing to talk about this subject, partly because of the language barrier, partly because of the attachment to privacy in matters of intimacy. In addition, her own love life was in turmoil, which meant that her state of mind in this unfamiliar environment was emotional and detached from reality. It was much like Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003), which depicts the loneliness of two characters who, longing for connection, wander through a chaotic Tokyo whose cultural codes they do not understand and whose language they do not speak.

In response, Hiraldo Voleau’s intentions have changed. She invited several young men and women she had met to join her on the rooftops of Tokyo and Osaka. There, the hustle and bustle of the city turned into a background hum. It became an intimate and personal place where, despite cultural and language barriers, there was room for intense connection. Hiraldo Voleau created this connection by inviting young people to share their love stories and personal secrets through writing.

She offered her own body as a canvas and used their bodies to write her personal story about her lost love, X. While in Japan, she tried to get answers from him. But he never responded. He had nothing to say to her. This also expresses, though in a different sense, how Hiraldo Voleau felt about the intense experiences her new friends shared with her. The feelings shared could not be expressed verbally, but they came out in the slow, intimate physical writing sessions that began on those rooftops.

Hiraldo Voleau had thus opted for an important means of expression, firmly rooted in Japanese culture: the act of writing. Japanese calligraphy is called shodô, the way of beautiful writing. A calligrapher can take a long time to write a single character.

The mind must first be cleared. After an initial preparation, the character can be laid down in a few strokes. The meditative aspects contained in shodô - the emptying of the mind, the creation of space the creation of space, mindfulness, repetition, leaving the head and entering the body. and entering the body - came together on the rooftops of Japan. The physical act of writing on each other’s bodies caused a deep connectivity and a sense of real contact. a deep connectivity and a sense of real contact. (...)

Text by curator Kim Knoppers
Installation images: Deichtorhallen. Hamburg, 2020 – and Fotografie Forum. Frankfurt, 2020.

e
Hola Mi Amol.
Photobook, 2019

"French-Dominican photographer Karla Hiraldo Voleau grew up with one constant warning: “Never date a Dominican.” In ‘Hola Mi Amol’, Hiraldo Voleau returns to the Dominican Republic to cast her gaze on the bodies of the many men she meets, mostly men working in the tourism trade. There, she explores desire, sex, and love in this luscious, tender, and sexy debut. Her sensual, unstaged, mostly nude, photos of the men she connects with are punctuated by vulnerable self-portraits of their intimate encounters. Accompanied by short texts, ‘Hola Mi Amol’ unfolds into a story that is at once fierce, funny, and compassionate. In the DR without her mother, aunt, or grandmother (all of whom had fallen in love, married, or had a child there), and out of sight of her male relatives there, Voleau frees herself to the borders of what feels "allowed" in love, sexuality, and friendship. Inevitably, her document of this edge carries a trace of the often brutal loneliness of our times. Hiraldo Voleau’s curiosity about eroticism, virility, cultural and racial identities, and the status of the female-gaze vibrates through the pages of this sly and stunning debut."

Text by Bruno Ceschel
Reading performance at Les Rencontres d'Arles, 2019, image by Florian Amoser.
Installation Images: Foam Talent. Kulhaus Berlin, 2020.

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Latin Lover.
Ongoing Series (sequel of HMA), 2018

Latin Lover is the second chapter of ‘Hola Mi Amol’. While both projects focus on Dominican men, ‘Latin Lover’ portrays Dominican men living in the US, and more specifically, the Dominican community of New-York City – the biggest outside the Dominican Republic. It was in 2018 that I stayed in New-York City for 3 months, in order to meet as many young Dominican men as possible (or mixed like me). They would be born and raised in the US, or recently immigrated. Actually, their origin story didn’t matter as much as the fact that they had to be aware of their identity, gender, and social representation. With them, I started conversations about the social stereotypes applied to Latino men today.

I asked them about their education as boys and then men, their families, and how their cultural background blended – or not – with their American identity. They would tell me how they feel so distant from the idea of the ‘Latino man’ as it’s portrayed today.

A new generation of men has come to break the idea of hyper sexualised, overly masculine, macho man. They have come to deconstruct the myth of the ‘Latin Lover’. While in ‘Hola Mi Amol’ I aggresively dived into such stereotyped situations and characters, here I take a step back, and let the subjects take main role in the project. I wanted to try other ways to represent masculinity while reversing the male gaze. The result is a dance of dressing and undressing, of moving around a bedroom, of searching for the right position.

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The Greece Piece.
Performative Photography, 2019
h
Pictures from Bed.
Photobook, 2017 – 20

Published by Le Rayon Vert editions, 50 copies, sold out.

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Hoodies and Blue Eyes.
Collection of Portraits, 2018

Timo, Quentin, Nikolai, Samuel.

j
Follow Me In.
Performative Photography, in collaboration w/ Anna Kieblesz, 2017

Anna and I tried to establish an intimate relationship without ever seeing or talking to each other over a period of 4 months.

In Paris, she followed me everywhere, we exchanged gifts and handwritten messages without ever meeting. In The Hague, I took her place for her to disappear, I wore her clothes and lived in her house, spent time with her boyfriend and tried to become her, while she was watching.

We met for the first time in Arles during the installation of our collaborative work. All our past actions were put under bright light, and the relationship we built from scratch finally felt tangible, for better and worse. What’s the limit between performance and real life? How much are we replaceable?

This book gathers the photos we took during the experience and the letters and notes we wrote to each other to communicate.

Book graphic design: Jacopo Atzori
Installation image: Les Rencontres d'Arles, 2017

k
Curriculum Vitae
    Education
  • 1

    Master in Photography, ECAL, 2016 – 18.
    Graduated with highest honours.
    Lausanne, Switzerland.

  • 2

    Bachelor in Design, option Photography, 2013 – 16.
    Ecoles de Condé. Paris, France.

    Exhibitions and Publications
  • 1

    Another Love Story (solo show).
    Photoforum
    , 2023.
    Biel/Bienne, Switzerland.

  • 2

    Hola Mi Amol.
    'Désirés' group show, 110 Galerie, 2023.
    Paris, France.

  • 3

    Another Love Story (solo show).
    Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 2022.
    Paris, France.

  • 4

    Quelle lenteur tout à coup (solo show).
    Galerie C x En Suite at
    Nuit des Musées, 2022.
    Lausanne, Switzerland.

  • 5

    Pictures From Bed.
    Photobook, 2021. Published by
    Le Rayon Vert Editions, France.

  • 6

    A Man In Public Space.
    Group show 'SPBH Lounge', 2021.
    Webber Gallery, London.

  • 7

    Between the Lines.
    Group show, Grove Gallery, 2021.
    London, UK.

  • 8

    A Man in Public Space.
    Photo festival Urbi & Orbi, 2021.
    Sedan, France.

  • 9

    A Man in Public Space.
    Bieler Fototage Festival, 2021.
    Photoforum Pasquart, Biel/Bienne, Switzerland.

  • 10

    Photo No-Nos, 2021.
    Feature. Published by Aperture.

  • 11

    A Man in Public Space.
    Biennale de l’Image Possible of Liège
    , 2020.
    Liège, Belgium.

  • 12

    Pictures From Bed.
    Featured in photobook Encore Somnolent,
    Je Déployais mes Oreilles en Fleur,
    2020.
    Photobook published by Le Rayon Vert Editions, France.

  • 13

    Hola Mi Amol.
    Foam Talent, 2020
    .
    Group show, touring at Kuhlhaus Berlin, Germany
    and FoAM Amsterdam, Netherlands.

  • 14

    Pictures From Bed.
    Group show, Photo Schweiz Fair, 2020.
    Zurich, Switzerland.

  • 15

    I Have Nothing to Tell You.
    Olympus Recommended’Fellowship, 2019-2020.
    Touring show at Deichtorhallen in Hamburg,
    Fotografie Forum in Frankfurt, and
    Foam Amsterdam, Netherlands.

  • 16

    Hola Mi Amol.
    Aperture First Photobook Award, 2019.
    Finalist. Paris Photo, Paris, France.

  • 17

    Hola Mi Amol.
    Photobook, co-published by
    Self Publish Be Happy & ECAL, 2019.
    UK and Switzerland.

  • 18

    Collaborate!
    Group Show, 2017. Curated by Foam Amsterdam.
    Les Rencontres d’Arles, France.

  • 19

    Augmented Photography.
    Group Show at Galerie Elac, 2017.
    Lausanne, Switzerland.

  • 20

    Pamela.
    MAP Photography Festival, 2016.
    Musée Paul Dupuy, Toulouse, France.

    Awards and Grants
  • 1

    Residence 2-12, 2022-2023.
    Cité Internationale des Arts de Paris.

  • 2

    Soutien à la création 2022,
    Ville de Lausanne,
    Grant, Switzerland.

  • 3

    Promotion Relève de la Photographie, 2021.
    Grant. Schweizer Kulturstiftung Pro Helvetia.
    Switzerland.

  • 4

    Olympus ‘Recommended’ Fellowship, 2019-2020.
    Grant. Germany.

  • 5

    Finalist at Aperture First Photobook, 2019.
    With Hola Mi Amol, 2019.
    Paris Photo, USA / France.

  • 6

    Finalist for Fashion Picto Award, 2019.
    Maison Européenne de la Photographie.
    Paris, France.

  • 7

    Pro Helvetia Photobook Publishing Grant, 2019.
    Switzerland.

  • 8

    Promotion Relève de la Photographie, 2018.
    Grant. Schweizer Kulturstiftung Pro Helvetia.
    Switzerland.

  • 9

    Unseen Dummy Awards, Unseen Festival, 2018.
    Finalist. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

  • 10

    3rd place VFG Swiss Young Talent Award
    for Photography, 2018.
    Switzerland.

  • 11

    Excellency Prize within the fields of
    Design & Visual Arts, 2018.
    Award. HES-SO. Switzerland.

  • 12

    Bourse du Talent, 2016.
    Award & Grant. MAP Photography Festival.
    Toulouse, France.

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