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Elena Helfrecht

MA work


Plexus is an exploration of a suppressed and unfamiliar past, entangled with numerous layers of personal and collective history, trauma, memory and silence. In this work, I investigate the complex routes of my ancestors using my family house and archive. The fabrication of accounts through objects and spaces reveals bridges between the now and then.

Observing the past through the inheritance of previous generations’ trauma and memory, decades later, frames an individual and national narrative of German history. This photographic case study provides a familiar terrain to explore the influence of the family in the discovery of psychological and cultural processes within history.

The creation of dream-like environments and symbols interlinks all that is remembered and simultaneously forgotten. Constructing a home and a sense of identity, spanning across four generations, provides grounds for a detailed investigation of post-memory, mental health, war and history.


  • MA Degree


    School of Arts & Humanities


    MA Photography, 2019

  • My photographic practice revolves around consciousness and its interactions with mental and material environments. I am interested in how inner space is informed and influenced, where it originates and how it can be made visible. Engaging in creative play becomes a direct connection between the internal and the external realm. Through this process, I relate individual experiences to collective history and turn personal involvement into a shared understanding.

    In my work, I regard photography as a performative action and an extended form of procreation. The inner space is extended through the apparatus into the image: thought and vision are injected into the camera’s womb, where a palpable reality is impregnated by light, coalescing into a two-dimensional image. A part of the self is killed, the reality in front of the lens silenced by the shutter, only to be revived by the beholder’s gaze.

  • Degrees

  • MA Art and Visual History, Humboldt University of Berlin, 2016—2017 (Incomplete); BA Art History & Book Science, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, 2014
  • Exhibitions

  • Bloomberg New Contemporaries, South London Gallery, 2019; Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Leeds Art Gallery, 2019; 'In Repeat', Ginnel Foto Fest, Ipswich, 2019; 'Hot Sheet', The Department Store, Brixton, London, 2019; 'Alarum', Ardesia Projects, Landesvertretung Baden-Württemberg, Tiergarten, Berlin, 2019; 'Intro:spective', Seen Fifteen Gallery, London, 2019; 'New Femininity', Curated by Girls, Melkweg Expo, Amsterdam, 2019; 'NowShowing: Fragmentation', Coningsby Gallery, London, 2019; 'Envisioning Other Worlds', Bow Arts, London, 2019; RCA Secret, Royal College of Art, London, 2018; 'Family of No Man', Cosmos Books, Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, 2018; European Month of Photography, Emerging Artists, BBA Gallery, Berlin, 2018; 'Rapture', Aeon Gallery, Illinois, 2018; 'One Year Revolv', Safe House 1, London, 2018; 'Offprint', Tate Modern, London, 2018; 'Still Lives: Honouring the Dead', Gallery X, Dublin, 2017; 'Trash cans for hearts and people have no soul', Fotofestiwal, Łódź, 2017
  • Awards

  • Bloomberg New Contemporaries, 2019; Ginnel Foto Award, 2019; Shortlisted, Association of Photographers Student Awards, 2019
  • Publications

  • Optika Zine, Issue II, Ginnel Foto Fest, 2019; Omens, Self Published, 2018; Pamela Dimitrov (Editor), Dust, Self Published, 2018; Matthias Straub (Editor), THE OPÉRA, Vol. VII, Kerber Verlag, 2018; Michael Ash Smith (Editor), Unvael Journal, Issue II, 2018; Elisabeth Krohn (Editor), Sabat Magazine, Vol. III: The Crone Issue, 2017; Matthias Straub (Editor), THE OPÉRA, Vol. IV, Kerber Verlag, 2015; Vassilis Zidianakis (Editor), Unlocked, Atopos, 2015