Elena Helfrecht | The Other
Size: 30cm x 42cm
The Artist's Statement
My practice is imbued with a deep interest in consciousness; a result of raw self-observation and a constant desire to understand the mind. Originating from personal experience with mental illness, I started using photography as a tool to reach a state of reflection, initially working impulsively and based on pure emotion. This has not only developed into a general interest in psychology and how consciousness is constructed, but also given me now the ability to express my thoughts in a controlled manner. At present I work in elaborated and planned concepts, instilled with a visceral iconography that started developing in my early beginnings.
Making an image for me is an effective way to reflect and research on the human condition. The camera allows me to expose internal discourses and translate psychological processes into the visible realm, giving access to confronting the intangible in all of us. Often I use skin therefore as a sensory element pointing to the impelling force embedded in flesh and bones. In my imagery I intend to manifest a dense emotional atmosphere through an affective symbolism.
Photography connects the mental and physical world and distills the inherent theme of separation and coalescence. When making a photograph, we separate a piece of ourselves in the very moment of pressing the shutter, and bring it forth into an independent existence. Through this extraction we are not only able to gain a new perspective on the alienated familiar, but also share this insight and experience with others.
The image consists of two photographs. Negatives of two self-portraits are layered over each other, one of them inverted, and then scanned and printed. This technique supports the concept metaphorically and illustrates the process of separation and reunification.
The dust and scratches left in the image intentionally cannot be allocated anymore in one or the other part, so the bodies and their surrounding become one through imperfection, dependent on each other. Encircling the bodies, the particles give the impression as if the bodies were caught in the Aether, acting as a representation of this undefined space between realities.
In our time imperfections are rather questioned than a "perfect" image without any mistakes - though those are more often the subjects of heavy manipulation. Using the analog medium is a conscious way of letting go of control to a certain degree - to let the image of the self be as it is, rather than what is comfortable to look at.
Elena Helfrecht (b. 1992, Germany) graduated in Art History and Book Science at Friedrich-Alexander-
Through photography, she examines inner space, consciousness, and communication. Her images are created from multiple layers of meaning, characterized by a visceral iconography. She is influenced by the folklore of her childhood in Bavaria and her active and continuous passion for Art History and Psychology.
Elena’s work has been internationally shown, recent shows taking place in Arles, Berlin, London, Illinois, Łódź, and Amsterdam. Articles about her work have been published in THE OPÉRA: Magazine for Classic and Contemporary Nude Photography by Matthias Straub (presented at Paris Photo and C/O Berlin), as well as in magazines and blogs like Curated by Girls, The Royal Photographic Society, L’Oeil de la Photographie, or F-Stop Magazine.