Olympus Fellowship


Mika Sperling, Tobias Kruse und Karla Hiraldo Voleau

recommended, the fellowship for outstanding artistic photography, goes into the next round

Mika Sperling will be accompanied by FFF curator Celina Lunsford for one year to develop and implement an artistic project. Together with Karla Hiraldo Voleau and Tobias Kruse, the photo artist from Hamburg forms the second volume of recommended.

In 2017, Olympus launched the unique fellowship together with Fotografie Forum Frankfurt (FFF), Haus der Photographie/Deichtorhallen Hamburg and Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. It is awarded every two years. Three photographers each receive financial support of €10,000 for an artistic photography project and one year of coaching from a curator of the participating institutions.


Mika Sperling, born 1990 in Norilsk, Siberia, grew up in Germany, and lives and works in Hamburg. She has a degree in communication design from the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and a Master of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. The photographic artist works biographically: Using the example of her own life story and experience, she deals with multiculturalism, identity and the places of life; she examines the effect of origin on the development of personality and on relationships within a family. Her project, planned for recommended, will focus on her mother-in-law, who comes from Vietnam, Sperling herself as the eighth child of a family of Russian-Germans with Mennonite roots and her own daughter, born in the USA and growing up with three languages.

“In choosing the artist Mika Sperling, we were fascinated by the intense poetic aspects of her visual language,” says Celina Lunsford, Artistic Director and Curator of the Fotografie Forum Frankfurt, explaining the jury's decision. “The recommended fellowship gives her the opportunity to further the autobiographical approach of her work - and to artistically deal with the complex interrelationships of her own origins, her multi-ethnic family, and life as a young mother.”

The other two fellowship holders of the new recommended year are Karla Hiraldo Voleau (*1992, Dominican Republic) and Tobias Kruse (*1979, Germany). Like Mika Sperling, they will both work based on their personal documentary styles. Karla Hiraldo Voleau's images deal with identity, vulnerability, love, and gender roles in the relationship between man and woman; she is coached by Kim Knoppers, Curator at the Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. Tobias Kruse's work focuses on a toxic waste dump near his home in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern; he is supervised by Ingo Taubhorn, Curator at the Haus der Photographie/Deichtorhallen Hamburg. The second recommended year was selected by a three-member jury with Celina Lunsford, Ingo Taubhorn and Marcel Feil, Artistic Director of the Foam.

In the coming months, all three fellows will work on a photographic project, accompanied by the curators with workshops and individual meetings. Afterwards three exhibitions are planned; the new recommended works will be exhibited at the FFF from 01.08.–20.09.2020. The Haus der 

Photographie/Deichtorhallen Hamburg will show the works from 21.03.–14.06.2020 and the Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam presents from 23.10.2020–17.01.2021.

The aim of the recommended fellowship and the four partners is to promote contemporary photography in the artistic field. The photographers receive effective support at a crucial point in their careers. “We are delighted that our FFF main sponsor Olympus has created another opportunity with recommended enabling our expertise in photography to support such excellent talents,” says Celina Lunsford.

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