I dreamt of my grandmother, whose hand I held while she turned into wax.
I asked her what hurts more, to die or to give birth.
Her mouth grew big and red as her laughter was ringing in my ears.
She stopped and looked into my eyes,
breaking the newborn silence.
Following Winnicott’s theory of ‘Playing and Reality’, artifacts connected to intergenerational experiences are used as transitional objects to materialize a construct of memory running in a family. From a personal viewpoint I work with a visceral iconography to create an open metaphor for transgenerational trauma, which the viewer is invited to use as a space of reflection.
Growing up in Germany as a post-war-generation, I know about the Second World War only from history books, but recently came to realize how much the experiences of my ancestors have shaped my own development – and how close our historical past is to our experienced present.
Plexus concentrates on the female lineage, implying both my mother and grandmother are present in my consciousness.
My grandparents’ attic in Bavaria is used as a stage to act out a contexture of dream, experience and family history, translating complex psychological processes into a visibly tangible reality.
Revisiting the concept of female core-identity, the feminine ‘inner space’ is transferred into the image, turning the camera into an intermediary between internal and external reality. Making the photograph becomes a procreational process. Through this extraction it is not only possible to gain a new perspective on the alienated familiar, but also to share this insight and experience.
The images interact with each other in the series’ context, but also work independently and can be combined to ambiguous narratives leading the viewer into the abyss of their own mind.
This body of work is in progress, so the project is not finished and will evolve in the future.
By Elena Helfrecht