Elena Helfrecht

Winning bodies of work

‘Plexus’ is a photographic case study based on still lifes that emerge from inherited trauma and postmemory, exploring the family as an essential contributor to psychological and cultural processes across history. Following her grandmother’s death, Helfrecht returns to her family estate in Bavaria and uses the house and its archive as a stage and protagonists for an allegoric play.

In the process of reconnecting the fragmentary history of her female lineage, the term ‘re-membering’ becomes literal. Immersing herself in this story, she fills the gaps with dreams, associations, and imagined scenes to create a narrative transgressing personal and national boundaries. The objects and architecture of the house become parabolic proxies and open a gate between the past and the present.

Permeating the imagery is a figurative search for apparent reoccurrences in history, echoing the artist’s repetition of her mother’s and grandmother’s behaviours. By confronting a past spanning across four generations, a renewed sense of identity provides ground for a detailed investigation of postmemory, mental health, war, and history.