Elena Helfrecht


‘Plexus’ is a photographic case study highlighting the effects of inherited trauma and indirectly experienced memories through archival still lifes. In this work, I investigate the history of my ancestors using my Bavarian family home and archive, and examine the family’s influence in psychological and cultural processes. Finding documents and artifacts which became unreadable, I add my own narrative to what is left unknown. With this, I want to create a metaphor transgressing personal and national boundaries.

Literally ‘re-membering’, I piece together the limbs of a body of events I have never fully experienced myself, to understand the impact this baggage has on our lives. The objects and architecture of the house become parables connecting the past and the present. Even though history never repeats in the same way, cyclical patterns reappear, and I catch myself repeating the behaviors of my mother and grandmother that so greatly influenced me. With this body of work, spanning across four generations, I want to raise awareness for the aftermaths of conflicts generations later, and examine how collective memory is shaped and influenced.

Royal College of Art, MA Photography. London / 2019