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.

On building and creating

Apr 19, 2020 - Elena Helfrecht

Since my childhood, I have always enjoyed building things and I was constantly intrigued to find nests and other homes around me. I used to build miniature caves and houses for frogs and insects I would find at the edge of the river and be endlessly fascinated by the miraculous larval cases of caddisflies. I also used to build little huts for myself and my friends in the forest and made caves out of blankets in the living room, inside which I would often curl up listening to my favourite tales on my portable cassette or CD player (among many ‘Grimms Maerchen’, read by Manfred Steffen, or Schariwari’s ‘Rauhnacht’, which immersed me in the myth and lore of Bavaria before I could even read). Many times in my room I arranged books like little houses and created whole cities with Legos, later on discovering Sims (never really ‘playing’ the game, just building houses one after the other—none of them ever satisfying me). Today, it seems like I never got rid of this repetitive habit of building, destroying, and rebuilding, in search of something I could never find.


By now, I understand this habit even more in-depth in connection with my work and with art in general, and I find Bachelard’s and Jung’s analogy of the house and the mind in The Poetics of Space and Memories, Dreams, Reflections very fitting in this regard. I extend myself into it, I store things, I interact with the treasures I collect and with guests. The space of the image relates to this comparison and, for me, is never two-dimensional. Instead, an image is a room to be entered and a fragmentary space that is furnished and completed with the viewer’s stories and associations. When looking at paintings and photographs, I understand this as an invitation to step into someone else’s home, to see through someone’s eyes and connect, confront or disagree—to communicate.