>Projects >2022 >Plexus

Elena Helfrecht


‘Plexus’ (2018-ongoing) 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 in history. After the death of my grandmother, I return to my family estate in Bavaria and use the house and its archive as a stage and protagonists for an allegorical theatre piece.
By reassembling the fragmentary history of my female ancestry, the term “re-membering” becomes literal. By immersing myself in this story, I fill in the gaps with dreams, associations and imagined scenes to create a narrative that transcends personal and national boundaries. The objects and architecture of the house become parabolic stand-ins, opening a gateway between the past and the present.
The images permeate a figurative search for apparent repetitions in history and reflect my own repetition of my mother’s and grandmother’s behaviours. By confronting a past that spans four generations, a renewed sense of identity provides the basis for a detailed exploration of postmemory, mental health, war and history.


Elena Helfrecht (*1992) is a German visual artist based in Bavaria.
She completed her MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art in London in 2019, after studying Art and Visual History at Humboldt University in Berlin from 2016 to 2017 and receiving her BA in Art History and Book Studies at Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen in 2015.
Her practice revolves around inner space and the phenomena of consciousness, which emerge from an autobiographical context and open up to the surreal and fantastic, sometimes grotesque. She is influenced by the folklore and landscapes of her childhood in the Fichtelgebirge and her enduring passion for art history and psychology.
Elena’s work has been exhibited in more than ten countries in group and solo exhibitions at institutions and festivals such as the South London Gallery (UK), the Rugby Museum and Art Gallery (UK), the Benaki Museum (GR), the Galleria Civica Cavour (IT), the Palazzo Rasponi 2 (IT), the Technische Sammlungen Dresden (DE), the Photo Vogue Festival (IT), Encontros da Imagem (PT), the FORMAT Festival Derby (UK) and the Palácio das Artes (BR).
She has been honoured with the BJP International Photo Award (2nd place), the Sony World Photo Awards (2nd place), the Camera Work Award and the AOP Student Awards. She was also nominated for the FOAM Paul Huf Award and selected as one of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries, as well as the jury’s favourite for the Le Bal Award for Young Creation. Her images have been featured and reviewed in numerous publications including the British Journal of Photography, GUP Magazine, Der Greif, Source Magazine and the Financial Times Weekend.
She has lectured and spoken at institutions such as the London College of Communication, Bauhaus University Weimar, University of Brighton, Arts University Bournemouth and the University of Europe. She is a member of the German Photographic Academy and the VG Bildkunst. Elena’s work can be found in private and public collections.