TEREZA ZELENKOVA

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Table of Contents


I        Work

          The Essential Solitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2017

          A Snake that disappeared through a hole in the wall  . . . . . 2015 - present

         ING Unseen Talent Awards Commission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2016

          Two and two is five . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2014

          The Absence of Myth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2013

          Georges Bataille’s grave   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . 2013

         The Other Night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2012

          Index of Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . 2011

          Night is also a sun. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . 2011

          Supreme Vice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 2010     


II      Publications

        The Essential Solitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2018

         The Absence of Myth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . 2013

         Index of Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2012

         Supreme Vice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . 2011

     

III    Online Reviews

         The Guardian

         1000 Words blog

         Notes on metamodernism

         Calvert Journal

         Paper Journal

         Der Greif - part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V

         Dazed Digital

         Ahorn Magazine

         Photo-Eye

         1000 Words


IV    Information

         News   

         About

         CV

         Contact

       

V    Editions

                               

Selected Photographs  |    Exhibition Views  |  Text

THE ESSENTIAL SOLITUDE

Text by Tereza Zelenkova



“Literature connected since romanticism with the decadence of religion in that it tends to lay a discreet claim to the heritage of religion, is not so much cognate with the content of religion as it is with the content of mysticism which, incidentally, is an almost asocial aspect of religion. Similarly mysticism is closer to the truth than I can possibly say. By mysticism I do not mean those systems of thought on which this vague name is conferred. I refer, rather, to the ‘mystical experience’, to those ‘mystical states’ experienced in solitude. In these states we can see a different truth to that which is concerned with the perception of objects, or indeed of the subject, connected, as it is, with the intellectual consequences of perception. But this is not a formal truth. Coherent discussion cannot account for it. It would be incommunicable if we could not approach it in two ways: through poetry and through the description of those conditions by which one arrives at these states.”


- Georges Bataille, Literature and Evil1



There are places where time has ceased to exist a while ago through a careful and thoughtful maintenance of appearances. Then there are places where time has always had its way and corruption and decay has marked its every surface. How strange it is then that after spending some time in a painstakingly preserved interior of the former, one can after a short while recognize a faint odor of formaldehyde in the air and right after come to the realization that, in fact, he finds himself inside a body of an embalmed corpse. On the contrary, the rotting entrails of a seemingly derelict room can be surprisingly high-spirited. With death comes renewal; past, present and future co-exist together within the folds of decomposing upholstery and life and its counterpart can no longer be perceived as contradictions, but only as an eternal cycle of things. Like the Sun, decay brings both life and destruction.

These photographs show one such room. Although at first sight a derelict ruin, it is also a folly created by someone who I’d like to imagine as the 20th century answer to Des Essientes, a decadent character from J. K. Huysmans infamous novel A Rebours, who transformed his house into a sensual feast in which he surrounded himself with historic interiors, carefully arranged objects and, of course, an array of smells and sounds. “Travel, indeed, struck him as being a waste of time, since he believed that the imagination could provide a more-than-adequate substitute for the vulgar reality of actual experience”.2


A book as figure for an infinite knowledge, a room as a stage for imagination, “a room that is like a dream, a truly spiritual room, where the stagnant atmosphere is nebulously tinted pink and blue. Here the soul takes a bath of indolence, scented with all the aromatic perfumes of desire and regret. There is about it something crepuscular, bluish shot with rose; a voluptuous dream in an eclipse. Every piece of furniture is of an elongated form, languid and prostrate, and seems to be dreaming; endowed, one would say, with somnambular existence like minerals and vegetables. The hangings speak a silent language like flowers, skies and setting suns”.3 And within there’s a figure - part female, part male; half deity, half whore; both immortal and corpse, and like Maldoror crouching in the depths of his cave, eyes closed, moves his neck from right to left, from left to right, for hours on end. “I cover my face with piece of velvet, black as the soot which gathers inside chimneys”4, writes Lautréamont. The enigma of Isidore Ducasse, dying alone in a gritty room of one of the cheap hotels in the 19th century Paris, haunts these photographs as much as delirious visions of an anonymous opium eater, arms spread open on filthy sheets covering a makeshift bed. Baudelaire embarked on distant voyages running his long thin fingers through his lover’s hair (“If you only knew all that I see! all that I feel! all that I hear in your hair!”5); Rimbaud hadn’t seen the sea before writing The Drunken Boat; there’s no need to leave this room, which one man had dreamt out in the 1970’s London. What is irrefutable is solitude – the essential solitude of this room that no longer fits within its surrounding buildings of glass and steal, of the one trapped within; of a reader, writer, or of anyone else looking into the abyss on the reverse side of his eyelids - the essential solitude of inner experience. After each day comes night, there’s Moon to every Sun, like the blind spot that fascinates the understanding by denying the fullness of it.






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1. Bataille, Georges. Literature and Evil. Penguin Classics, 2012.

2. Huysmans, Joris-Karl. Against Nature (A Rebours). Penguin, 2003.

3. Baudelaire, Charles. Paris Spleen. New Directions Pub. Co., 1988.

4. Lautréamont, et al. Maldoror and Poems. Penguin Books, 1988.

  1. 5.Baudelaire, Charles. Paris Spleen. New Directions Pub. Co., 1988.








THE ESSENTIAL SOLITUDE

Press Release, Ravestijn Gallery





‘The Essential Solitude’ is Czech photographer Tereza Zelenkova’s first exhibition at the Ravestijn Gallery. In her preferred black and white images Zelenkova presents a room and its curious inhabitant, evoking the fin de siècle movements of symbolism and decadence, to which the photographer pays homage, with references to the literature of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and J.K. Huysmans. Together, the still lives, nudes, and portraits are a highly captivating inquiry into the cycle of decay and renewal, the relation of the individual to an interior, and the possibility of myth and spirituality in a disenchanted world.


These images, with a strong sense of detail, seem to come from another era, yet are surprising in their strong presence and newness; this is another, more mythical and ephemeral realm altogether. In this place, time has ceased to exist in its everyday, stupefying linearity. Still lives of baroque draperies, covered with dust, and a single Papaver somniferum - an opium poppy - halt the narrative of the other images, where a figure is seen lying on a bed, with impossibly long flowing hair, repeated in the flowing fabric of the silk skirt. On only one of the photographs a face is shown, but the eyes remain closed, as the character remains essentially unknowable to the viewer. While the photographs, taken in an enigmatic building of which the viewer learns little, hint at a novelistic narrative, these scenes are rather from a mysterious novel never written.


In the texts that accompany the images, Zelenkova references the attempt to create an entire secluded world of one’s own, as was undertaken by the character Des Esseintes in JK Huysmans’ 1884 novel A Rebours (Against Nature). The inevitable failure and impossibility of such an endeavour, the tension between the imagination, the longing to live in such an imaginary place and the call of the outside world, the constant looking over one’s shoulder because of society’s norms, while acknowledged, are momentarily suspended in these strange and haunting images.


‘The Essential Solitude’ both seeks to capture and question the profound experience of seeing, reading, dreaming and thinking; experiences that can never be fully shared and that one always necessarily experiences alone. Zelenkova invites the viewer into a ‘Ministry of Interior Life’, to use Huysmans’ words, that is accessible only through dreaming, contemplation, literature and art. Solitude may be in and of itself an experience that cannot be shared, but also an experience - in contrast to loneliness - that is increasingly hard to obtain in an online and obtrusive world.