Karla Hiraldo Voleau, memories to hold on to

It’s not being surrounded by materialistic stuff that’s important to me…

Mudarse, moving out, déménager. Three words in three different languages we (you, me, him) manage to speak everyday since we left our countries. I’m (could also be him who’s speaking or even she) still trying to figure out if it’s a matter of phonetic power or what, but mudarse (Spanish) and déménager (French) are my favorite picks to describe the actual action of leaving a place or country.

However, If there is something that these words have in common, it is their philosophical aspect. This is lighter than the psychoanalytic subject of Salvador Dali’s fascination over the interpretation of Sigmund Freud‘s dreams that took him to create Woman with Drawers in 1936.

Just stop and reason for two minutes: the levels of understanding from the first syllable to the last are the same. With accents, without them, with consequences or affections. It  all comes down to how connected to objects, feelings, memories and people we are. One can say that it’s an important piece in the life puzzle.

What does make it more pleasant or warm in the near or distant future?

To clear out the theory above, Dominican-French photographer Karla Hiraldo Voleau explains a little bit more with an image of her nightstand and words from her soul to expose what we look for when placing ourselves in a new space.

 Last year, I spent it mostly abroad. Living off of two suitcases, therefore without a ‘real’ house for a long time. During that period I realized how important it was to me to have and see my things around. It’s not being surrounded by materialistic stuff that’s important to me, but to live in a place filled with my memories. For example, every item in sight in my bedroom is carefully curated and selected, so they can bring me back to a special moment or a special person, everyday.

My night table is a chair from HAY. It’s the first (and only) piece of design furniture I bought. I placed it there as a temporary night stand, but then loved it and decided it was staying there. It’s cliché but its position and setting reminds me of a photograph I love, ‘One and Three Chairs’ by Joseph Kosuth (1965).

Above the chair, there is the most important object that I own, a framed painting by Candido Bido. Bido was a major Dominican painter and artist. My step-mother owns 4 of his paintings, each of them are the same size, and represent a girl. She has 2 daughters, so we decided each painting represent one of us. Mine seems to be thinking and dreaming, with a bird on her mind. It’s the most important object to me, because it is the bridge to my second mother and my dad’s house, in the Dominican Republic. Even abroad, I would take it with me and hang it in my temporary bedrooms.

On the floor next to the chair is a very recent find from a thrift store in Geneva. It’s my favorite kind of ceramics: the hand-made-imprecise-thick-and-colorful kind. With a Ficus Elastica in it! 

Then you can see I’m a bit of a control freak because I nailed down the cables to the wall, because God forbid the wires get tangled or irregular. Actually this photograph is a bit of a setup, because I would never leave so many random stuff on the chair normally (I’m not a Virgo).

Laying on the chair you have some daily objects: always some water by my side, my phone facing down, some melatonin spray, favorite earrings, and the books I’m currently reading (Paul Austers’ New-York trilogy, and Maylis de Kerangal’s ‘Un monde à portée de main’).

And finally, some palo santo a dear friend gave me. He did not know how actually I was attached to this smell, but the palo santo burning reminds me of my New York home (I stayed there last winter for 3 months to develop a series). My roommates back there used it daily and the smell got confused in my brain with the overheated old Brooklyn apartment, the noises of the kitchen, the Mexican knitted carpets on the walls, the New York light, the people I met…The smells and perfumes of my environment are deeply rooted into me, and I consciously use them to travel in time or get closer to cherished memories. 

I can’t wait to remember the smell of this place some day.


Photo and text by: Karla Hiraldo Voleau. Karla will be launching her new book “Hola Mi Amol” at Yvon Lambert (Paris): October 22nd 2019.

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