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Elena Helfrecht | The Other


Edition: 15 + 2 AP
Size: 30cm x 42cm 
Print Only (Please contact us if you would like to add a frame) 


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 Process

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.

The Biography

Elena Helfrecht (b. 1992 in Marktredwitz; based in Bavaria) is a visual artist working with photography. She completed her MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art in London in 2019 with Distinction, after studying Art and Image History at Humboldt-Universität in Berlin from 2016 to 2017 and receiving her BA in Art History and Book Science from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in Erlangen in 2015. 

Elena’s work revolves around the inner space and the phenomena of consciousness, emerging from an autobiographical context and opening up to the surreal and fantastic, at times grotesque. Interweaving memories, experiences, and imagination, she creates inextricable narratives with multiple layers of meaning characterised by a visceral iconography.

In 2020, she was nominated for the Foam Paul Huf Award and awarded the 2nd place in the Professional Stilllife category at the Sony World Photography Awards. She was a winner of Camera Work hosted by Palazzo Rasponi 2, and a finalist for the HSBC Prix pour la Photographie, and the PHMuseum Photography Grant. Her work was selected by the Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2019, shown at South London Gallery and Leeds Art Gallery, and as a Jury Favourite for the Le Bal Award for Young Creation, as well as a winner of the AOP Student Awards, Magenta Flash Forward, and the Ginnel Foto Award in the same year. Elena’s images have been featured by numerous publications such as the British Journal of Photography, GUP Magazine, Der Greif, and ‘On Death’ by Kris Graves Projects and the Humble Arts Foundation, which was one of Time’s 30 Best Photobooks of 2019.



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