Photo by Elena Helfrecht


Plexus by Elena Helfrecht is an ongoing photographic case study based on still lives that emerge from inherited trauma and postmemory. By exploring family structures and relationships it proposes these experiences as essential contributors to psychological and cultural processes throughout history. Following the death of her grandmother Helfrecht returned to the family estate in Bavaria and used the house and its archive as stage and protagonist for an allegoric play.

In the process of reconnecting the fragmentary history of her female lineage, the term ‘re-membering’ becomes literal. Immersing herself into the family 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 signifiers of memory opening a gate between the past and the present.

Central to the imagery is a figurative search for apparent re-occurrences in history, echoing the repetition of daughter, mother 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.

Within the current global situation – economically, politically, and socially – it seems unavoidable to look back at parallels in history and to learn from them and to become aware of how the circumstances of our time will impact on generations to come. While the world events seem out of control for us as individuals, looking back and acknowledging the past’s influence on the present is a way of gaining back control over our own environment and being in the present, as well as our possible influence on the future.

Plexus was selected by FORMAT 21 Open Call Juror – Peter Bonnell, senior curator at QUAD