Tereza Zelenkova  

Deities of The Second Shift

Deities of The Second Shift (2022-2023) is a mixed media work blending sacred and profane forms of rituals to highlight their repetitive and prescribed nature that often yields no permanent material results. I used ordinary small tin antique baking forms and photographed them in a way that their representation becomes reminiscent of sacred totemic objects. The resulting photographs, printed directly to aluminium, bring out the marks and scuffs on the forms’ surface as a testament to their repetitive use, often spanning several family generations. The haptically interesting surfaces scarred by these minute imperfections and scratches are a reminder of all the hands that repeatedly touched them.

Alongside these photographs, hundreds of plaster casts made from the same forms are exhibited. The small plaster casts resemble votive objects that worshipers place in holy places to seek grace or wishes. At the same time, they also evoke the entirely profane, repetitive, and laborious process of baking the small biscuits, which exist for a disproportionately short amount of time, pointing to the traditionally female labour closely bound to the other homemaking rituals, in this case connected with Christmas or Easter in Slavic culture.

The other photographs in the series, such as the staged still-life in which everything is covered with kitschy nylon curtains, often found in central European interiors, represents both a church altar as well as claustrophobic and obsessive attempt at creating homely and cosy atmosphere.

The work mixes seemingly playful repetitive ‘making’ with something sinister that underpins the ceaseless cycles of female labour, the so called second shift, that often comes unacknowledged – Sisyphus task that any mother will recognize. Home, aftercall, is the centre of one’s universe, as the last photograph reminds us. It is a found image from the 50’s cookbook of a finger pointing to a hole in a dough called Omphalos (the Greek word for mythological navel of the world).

Text: Tereza Zelenková and *Tereza Rudolf, curator and writer, Fotograf Gallery

Deities of The Second Shift, 2023, UV print on aluminium

Exhibition views, Fotograf Gallery, Prague, 2023
Photo: Tomáš Hrůza

Exhibition view, Fotograf Gallery, Prague, 2023
Photo: Tomáš Hrůza


The Altar of Domestic Bliss, 2023, UV print on aluminum
Photo: Tomáš Hrůza

Deities of The Second Shift, 2023, UV print on aluminum

Omphalos, 2023, found photograph, inkjet print
Photo: Tomáš Hrůza

Copyright: Tereza Zelenkova, 2022