Photobooks of 2023: Elena Helfrecht

You Don’t Look Native To Me by Maria Sturm, Void

Diachronicles by Giulia Parlato, Witty Books

Giulia speaks about history, about who records it, and how unreliable this can be. Her images capture this wonderfully. You have to look twice and go back to make sure you saw what you saw. The photos remain shrouded in mystery, and in the end, you become the unreliable historian who puzzles the story together in your head. The flip book-like sequences at the beginning and the end add dynamism and make the narrative feel alive, as if it were still in the process of being unearthed.

Companions by Yana Wernicke, Loose Joints

In a world where animals are often treated like replaceable objects, I hope many people look at this book. With great sensitivity, Yana follows two young women who made it their mission to save animals from certain death. The resulting images are tender and deeply touching. One of my favourite books this year.

You Don’t Look Native To Me by Maria Sturm, Void

In her imagery, Maria merges people, landscapes, and exteriors into one collective identity without neglecting individual stories. These photographs are equally beautiful and rough, and together with the included texts, they invite you to step into a world you were probably not familiar with. A beautiful book, created with great empathy.

Phenomena by Morganna Magee, Origini Edizioni

I am a great fan of Morganna's work; her images are sublime and strangely comforting at the same time. Both fragile and somber, they highlight the essence of life and death and create a warm, gentle feeling. “Phenomena” is a beautiful piece of art. Completely handbound, it looks more like a journal rather than a typical photo book, which makes it feel very intimate, as if you were holding Morganna's personal research and taking a peek at what she found.

Like Father, Like Son by Anna Aicher, self-published

Growing up in a small village in southern Germany myself, Anna's photos bring back childhood feelings. There is a sense of nostalgia, but equally an atmosphere of impending change. Every image is like this precious moment in time when growing up, where you realize only later that it will never come back. The vibrant, beautiful images in combination with this feeling of a childhood summer made me return to this book often.

Now Is Not The Right Time by Peter Pflügler, The Eriskay Connection

Peter's work is equally unsettling, playful, and intimate. Drawing from his experience of his father's suicide attempt, Peter lures the viewer deep into the narrative, allowing them to piece together their understanding of family secrets and the burden this can impose on an individual. The additional text and imagery interspersed between the pages contribute significantly to the subtext and weight of the narrative. A beautifully crafted book.

Elena Helfrecht (b. 1992) is a visual artist known for her dreamlike and surreal photographic works. Her practice mainly revolves around phenomena of consciousness, combining individual experiences with collective history. Most recently, her first monograph, Plexus, was published by VOID.

top - You Don’t Look Native To Me by Maria Sturm, Void
below - Now Is Not The Right Time by Peter Pflügler, The Eriskay Connection

Now Is Not The Right Time by Peter Pflügler, The Eriskay Connection