An die Zukunfts-Seelen
„Ich wandle einsam hin auf dieser Erde,
Der Lust, dem Leben längst schon abgewandt;
Es teilt mein Seelenleben kein Gefährte,
Die Seele gab es nie, die mich verstand.”
(Kaiserin Elisabeth, Poetisches Tagebuch S. 214)

Essie as Elisabeth in a series photographed by Rebecca Jenkins.

These images are inspired by Empress Elisabeth as a person. I wanted to connect with how fleeting this woman’s life was, always spent in movement and suspension. It seems from her writings that there were at least two sides to her; the public and the very private, and possibly more, since she herself never seemed sure what she wanted to be. She wrote often about drowning and wishing to die by the sea, so I wanted the images to have a watercolour effect, hence the long exposure. There’s an element of mental illness to that as well, though I tried to be more respectful than some sensationalist approaches I’ve seen. Lastly, I think the idea of battling constantly changing emotions and mindsets on the inside whilst projecting a steadier, filtered image of yourself to the outside, like Sisi did, is something we can very much identify with nowadays.

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