>Projects >2022 >A Shadow in the Shape of a House

Lena Holzer

A Shadow in the Shape of a House

A Shadow in the Shape of a House (2021 – ongoing) is the visual and textual result of a three-week self-experiment that I spent in complete isolation in the uninhabited house directly opposite my childhood home. Shielded from any distraction by people or media, I began to look behind two different facades: the architectural one of the house I had in mind for many years while growing up in a small town in the Tyrolean mountains, and my own social facade as a person, which has been unconsciously shaped by cultural and societal influences and is constantly evolving, all the more drastically since I live abroad.
As a peculiar and withdrawn neighbour to my own family, I explored the history of this particular house through the traces left behind by its former residents, as well as new personal conceptions and desires stemming from a state of autonomy and an unfamiliar perspective on a familiar context.
The main work is a collection of photographs and texts – fragmentary reflections on the reasons for and realisations of this experience.
The first time presented as an installation of a series of 121 letter cards, each one holding an image in the front and a text in the back, I invited my audience to pick a single card which they would then address to their future selfs. In a provided space resembling a voting booth, people could take a solitary moment of contemplation to write a personal note to themselves. I collected these letters and vowed to post them one year after they had been written. By some persons deliberately leaving their letters unsealed and thus allowing me to read and respond to them, A Shadow in the Shape of a House has gained a second chapter; Those acts and documents of correspondence between individuals and myself perpetuate the correlations of public and private, hidden and shown, and inside and outside that also form core concepts in the original work.
Currently I am thinking of ways to translate this project into a publication, which is also what I would like to reflect on together with the community at FOTOHOF.


Lena Holzer is a designer and artist living between the Netherlands and Austria. Through language, photography and installations, she explores the complex relationships between social constructions and the individual. Her work revolves around themes such as intimacy, subjectivity, sensuality and discomfort. She graduated from the Faculty of Design and Art at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano and the MA Photography & Society at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, where she works as a tutor and facilitator.