Born in 1992, Elena Helfrecht is a German visual artist working in the medium of photography. Her practice revolves around exploring the inner space and the phenomena of consciousness. Working from an autobiographical context, her photographs open a window to the surreal and the fantastic, and at times, even the grotesque.
She lives and works in Bavaria, Germany.
She completed her MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art, London in 2019 after studying Art and Image History at Humboldt-Universität, Berlin. She holds a BA in Art History and Book Science from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Erlangen.
For Helfrecht, photography serves as a direct connection between the internal and the external realms. Her approach to photography can be symbolic or associative, interweaving memories, experiences, and imagination to create intricate narratives with multiple layers of meaning, characterized by visceral iconography. Through this process, she forms connections between individual experiences and collective histories, turning personal involvement into a shared understanding.
In recent years, her practice has shifted toward a black-and-white aesthetic, which became a tool for abstraction that places special emphasis on forms and patterns.
Helfrecht uses her personal history and experiences as a starting point upon which she builds complex narratives with broader implications. Growing up in the Bavarian countryside, she is influenced by the folklore and landscape of her childhood home. Her passion for Art History and Psychology also plays a significant role in her work, informing recurring themes in her artistic practice.
Her work has been shown in more than ten countries, in group and solo exhibitions at institutions and festivals. Selected exhibitions include: South London Gallery, UK; Rugby Museum and Art Gallery, UK; Benaki Museum / Athens Photo Festival, Greece; Galleria Civica Cavour, Italy; Palazzo Rasponi 2, Italy; Technische Sammlungen Dresden, Germany; Photo Vogue Festival, Italy; Encontros da Imagem, Portugal; FORMAT Festival Derby, UK and Palácio das Artes, Brazil.
Helfrecht was twice a recipient of the BJP International Photo Award, as well as 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, and as a Jury Favourite for the Le Bal Award for Young Creation, among others.
Her images have been featured and reviewed in publications such as the British Journal of Photography, GUP Magazine, Der Greif, Source Magazine, and Financial Times Weekend. She has also given lectures and talks at multiple institutions, including: the London College of Communication; Bauhaus-Universität Weimar; University of Brighton; Arts University Bournemouth, and the University of Europe.
District of Upper Palatinate | Public Art Collection, Villa Kebbel, Schwandorf, Germany
Vogue Italia Collection | Public Book Collection, Milan, Italy
Palazzo Rasponi 2 | Public Art Collection, Municipality of Ravenna, Italy
The Museum of Modern Art | Public Book Collection, New York, USA
Private Collections | in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, UK, USA, Japan, Thailand
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