Portrait taken by Teri Varhol
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. Within her practice, she regards photography as a performative action and an extended form of procreation. Engaging in experimentation and play becomes a direct connection between the internal and the external realm. Through this process, she relates individual experiences to a collective history and turns personal involvement into a shared understanding.  Growing up in the Bavarian countryside, the folklore and landscapes from her childhood are rooted in her heart and continuously influence her work, as does her love for Art History, Literature, and Psychology.

Elena’s work has been exhibited and published internationally. 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, the PHMuseum Photography Grant, and The Aftermath Project Grant. Her work was also 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, HANT Magazin, 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.