Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Inwards

Apr 16, 2020 - Elena Helfrecht

“Outside and inside form a dialectic division, the obvious geometry of which blinds us as soon as we bring it into play in metaphorical domains. It has the sharpness of the dialectics of yes and no, which decides everything. Unless one is careful, it is made into a basis of images that govern all thoughts of positive and negative. Logicians draw circles that overlap or exclude each other, and all their rules immediately become clear. Philosophers, when confronted with outside and inside, think in terms of being and non-being.”

 

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (New York: Penguin Books, 2014), pp. 227–228

 

 

When thinking about self-isolation and quarantine, the concept of inside and outside changes its weight and context. The current circumstances force me to retreat inside in a double sense: into the house and into myself, as being secluded from the outside world and all its distractions is an invitation for introspection, which is almost impossible to decline. Moreover, I am hiding inside because I fear something from the outside might enter my body or the body of those I love; an uninvited guest, a thing unpredictable inhabiting me, making a home within my flesh and nesting in my breath, until there is no space left for me. As Bachelard remarks, now more than ever the house returns to its maternal qualities:

 

“Life begins well, it begins enclosed, protected, all warm in the bosom of the house.”, p. 29

 

Like a caring mother, the house protects, shelters, but losing the choice to step outside makes it difficult to enjoy the warmth it provides, and its bosom slowly begins to feel like a cage. Especially now, the camera becomes more than a tool. The lens turns into a door, and following the spiralled pathway into myself, I exit through the smallest point in the centre, the little hole the camera pierced into the spiral’s fabric.

 

Here the world lies bare and silent, and it becomes easier to overlook the bars. When I photograph, I switch into an oneiric state and my interior spills into what lies outside of my body. Realities merge, and I cannot tell apart any longer what was shared and what was just within myself. The walls dissolve. Most importantly, I do not feel the necessity to separate, as everything blends into the image and materialises as a new space to enter.