THE PLANTATION COLLECTIVE 30

karla Voleau 

INTERVIEW BY JOANNA CRESSWELL

SCULPTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Tell us about your process. What reference or influence (if any) do you take from other mediums? This series is the result of a one-week workshop I did with Taiyo Onorato in Berlin. I was totally inspired by their very messy and DIY process. Their studio (Tonk) is like the bag of Mary Poppins, with so much material and stuffs everywhere. It did push me to go around the city of Berlin, where I started to gathering my own props and constructing my own mess. And that is exactly what happened: I wandered around day and night, observing Berlin and was quickly struck by the amount of construction sites. I was always drawn to those no-man’s lands, full of aesthetic materials. These sites are obviously perfect to construct sculptural and ephemeral installations. I just felt the urge of doing something with my hands, and stop contemplating so much, as a photographer is supposed to do.

Are these pictures concerned with exploring formal and aesthetical interests – studies of form, colour, movement, how things work together? The pictures are definitely experiments, studies of form and balance. Every component of the ephemeral sculptures look like they’re going to fall off, and that’s because it’s true. I was always in a rush, trying not to get caught, and also because every combination was so fragile. I almost felt like a Land Art artist, leaving my constructions behind me to fall apart naturally. But yes, most of all it was about finding a right balance between shapes and textures, and to make everything fit in the scene.

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Are you a photographer or an artist using photography? I am a photographer that would like to get out of these boxes. I’m more and more drawn to inserting different practices into my photography. Constructing sculptures and objects is one of them, but also performances and installations.  

Does your work reflect on the medium of photography or the photographic image? If so, is that intentional? I guess both. It refers to the photographic image in a sense that it is an aesthetic research, a work on composition within the frame of the camera. But at the same time, I try to make the viewer question the authenticity of the work, or the ownership: who is the author, are these documentation photographs or artistic photographs? Not knowing who did the installations, if they are accidental or intentional, it makes the viewer (and me) question the role of the medium.

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Typically, are your works more about construction or deconstruction? I find there is this tendency today, where you always want more bizarre, awkward, and strange photographs. I was attracted once by these appealing images where you just put random wtf stuffs together, and ta-daa you have a super graphic and meaningless image. Today I’m trying to construct images that make sens together. Yes it’s all about the construction, metaphorically and literally. I created the sculptures in this work because I cannot be only an observer anymore.

Are you interested in the notion of your pictures as objects? Do you think about how their physicality may endure as you are photographing them or is that an afterthought? This series isn’t made to stay digital. As I’m working in general on augmented photography, I’m very interested in materializing my photographs. And the fact that this work talks about the sculptural and the construction of images, I feel like the pictures would make more sense even in 3D, within a proper installation. The photographs must be printed, manipulated, assembled, cut or pasted, whatever makes the viewer feel like he's with me on my Berlin journey.

Often sculptural photographic works are concerned with elevating banal objects, situations or events to a status of ‘art’ – when does something become art for you? To me it’s very simple: art is when you say its art. There’s no condition, if it feels like art to you, then it is. And it is not a hippie thing to say that, it’s the art market that tries to close the field, to put some boundaries (and I can understand why), but in reality, banal or not, the subjects of a photograph have nothing to do with the nature of it. I like to think ‘art’ concerns us all, and as a photographer, it’s all my practice.