Valérie Leray

Documentary photography raises the question of the representation of Utopia. When it deals with historical sites – what the French historian Pierre Nora calls “the realms of memory” (lieux de mémoire) – photography explores the tension between the traces of History, i.e. its own capacity to become visible where it happened, and its fictional potential. What matters to me is to restore the different times of history in my photographs: the present, that is to say, the visible as well as History’s short or long time. 

I take my photographs on the memory sites themselves. Therefore they aim to restore memory. I never shoot an event when it happens, though important.  But I keep coming back on sites where History took place. 

The memory site becomes the place for a creative gesture: the objects that are traces of History become signs, symbols or allegories embodied in a new fiction. I intend to give a new reality to what remains invisible so as to fill this place with a new life and a new emotion.


Valérie Leray, born in 1975, lives and works in Orléans (FR) and Berlin (GER). She was graduated in Master in Photography and Multimedia in the Paris 8 University. She is an independent photographer. Her topic is the question of presence/ absence of History in contemporary photography. In 2008, her project “Nomads” was awarded the label of “The European Year for Intercultural Dialog”. It was also granted a contribution by the Delegation of Foreign Affairs and a purchase by the Centre France Region (1% artistique). In 2009, she received a support of the Direction of Cultural Affairs in Region Centre. Her works was exhibited in differents countries: Europäischer Monat der Fotografie (Berlin), Fotoseptiembre (Mexico D.F), Pyngyao International Photography festival, Paris, Berlin, Orléans.