Elena Helfrecht (b. 1992 in Marktredwitz, Germany; based in London and Bavaria) is a visual artist working with photography. In 2019 she completed her MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art, after achieving her BA in Art History and Book Science at Friedrich-Alexander-University in 2015 and briefly studying Art and Image History at Humboldt-University in Berlin from 2016 to 2017.
Her work deals with the phenomena of consciousness and communication, wherein she is drawn to inner abysses and conflicts, often emerging from an autobiographical context and opening up to the surreal and fantastic, at times grotesque. Growing up in the Bavarian countryside, the folklore and landscapes from her childhood are rooted in her heart and constantly influence her work, as does her passion for Art History, Literature and Psychology.
Elena’s work has been shown internationally in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the US, Japan, Poland, Ireland, Greece, and Switzerland. In 2019 she was selected as one of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries, and as a winner of the Association of Photographers Student Awards, the Ginnel Foto Fest, and Magenta Flash Forward.
My photographic practice revolves around consciousness and its interactions with mental and material environments. I am interested in how inner space is formed and influenced, where it originates and how it can be made visible. I create images with multiple layers of meaning, characterised by a visceral iconography.
Engaging in experimentation and play, often in a theatrical sense, 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 expanded 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.