In 2004 Frederike Helwig was assigned by an American glossy to cover a story about American real estate development in Nicaragua.
US involvement in Nicaragua’s economical and political affairs dates back to 1855, when William Walker and 58 fellow americans arrived in Granada and captured the town.
Helwig landed in Managua and travelled to San Juan del Sur where she met and photographed American real estate developers at their gated communities and private beaches. Afterwards, she stayed in Granada and one afternoon, walked around the town and took a portrait of every person she encountered who agreed to be photographed.
The magazine didn’t find what they wanted in Helwig’s photographs and recommissioned the feature with another photographer. Now, ‘Rundgang’ brings together the two sets of images: Helwig’s portraits in Granada and her record of a burgeoning US property industry located in Central America.
Helwig’s use of the camera to connect with individuals over a few short hours sits in tension with the political and economic forces which have had a significant influence on Nicaragua’s history and continue to shape it’s future.
Frederike Helwig was born in 1968 in Germany. She came to London in the early 1990s to study at Bournemouth College of Art and started her 20 year editorial and commercial career with magazines such as i-D and The Face.
‘Rundgang’ is the second publication in a series of personal works that she made during her time as a commercial photographer, exploring social documentary, portraiture and still life. The first, ‘Propaganda’ was self-published in 2016.
A long-term project, which started in 2014, explores identity and personal history of people who grew up in post war Germany and is set to be published later this year.