Home of Forgotten Souls by Susanne Helmert

As promised in my post about last weekend’s 57th Street Art Fair, I’m sharing some photography today, namely the work of photographer Susanne Helmert, whom I discovered at the fair. She didn’t show these two particular pictures at the fair, but they captivated me as soon as I checked out her website. I’ve been corresponding with her since (she happens to live in Chicago, and is originally from Germany like I am), and we have plans for her to do a guest blog for me on her Lake Michigan shots.

In the meantime, she graciously sent me these two photographs to share because they impressed me the most. They were taken in the abandoned lung sanatorium Beelitz Heilstätten outside of Berlin. It was built as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in 1898, and later functioned as a military hospital during both World Wars and in the former East Germany.

Lost in Translation by Susanne Helmert

“Lost in Translation” is probably my favorite of all the photos Susanne Helmert shows in her online portfolio. I haven’t quite figured out what it is about these two pictures, and this one in particular, that grabs me in a way that could be described as haunting. Perhaps they speak to me because I write memoir and have concerned myself a lot with those who are no longer with us, my grandparents in particular. It seems to me that I can still feel the presence of the souls of the people who sat in these chairs, or wandered that hallway. It might also be the locale in Central Europe (my grandparents were from Northern Bohemia in Czechoslovakia). Or maybe it has something to do with the grand architecture of the turn of the century, of which quite a few great buildings stand abandoned, especially in the former Soviet block. If you want to find out more, Susanne wrote about these photos and her trip to this place at Shooting with Abandon.