In February 2015, Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo is opening its show “There is strong shadow where there is much light“. Among the three featured artists is Elena Helfrecht, a 22-year-old photographer from Berlin, Germany.
Elena’s photography is not for the faint-hearted. She describes them as often “brutal”. The shots are minimalistic, with raw light and morbid details as the nude bodies have the appearance of death, especially when matched with genuine dead corpses of animals or insects (reminding the work of photographer Inès Kozic). The skins showing the stigma of teenage angst and suicide are not very far from the visible scarifications. But Elena also connects her work with fragility and emotions. What you see on the surface, on the exterior, are the secret torments of the interior.
Nudity plays a hide-and-seek game with the beholder, showing flesh but hiding faces and hinting souls. The capture of vulnerability is at its peak. Nothing is softened, nothing is censored by the usual beauty’s ideals of our society… the scars of the wounded, either by life or surgeries, the damages of the time, the weakness and yet, the strength. Bodies get a pagan dimension, as distorted as the old trees and their roots, spirits of Nature with natural flaws. Hypnotic, poignant, even sensual in a way, the emotional photography of Elena Helfrecht are confronting us with deep existential questions. One of them is, are you brave enough to find beauty in unexpected subjects?