Tereza Zelenková (b. 1985 in Ostrava, Czech Republic) is a photographic artist based in London and Prague. Despite the ethereal imagery of her work, the material process of image creation is a crucial element of her practice; working primarily with black and white analogue film, Tereza’s images pair clarity of form with a hauntingly resonant aesthetic. Her work possesses a curious singularity which is difficult to qualify; while intentional and carefully composed, there is a ‘found’ quality to the work influenced by documentary conventions. Rather than heavily orchestrating the scenes which unfold, Zelenková uncovers the elusive mysticism of apparently mundane objects through the addition or illumination of particularly esoteric features.
Tereza received a BA (Hons) in Photographic Arts at the University of Westminster in 2010 and an MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art in London in 2012. Her first major work, Supreme Vice, achieved wide acclaim for its powerful exploration of occult spirituality in an apparently post-religious world. Since then, Tereza has continued to refine her stylistic hallmark. Although frequently rooted within the same landscapes which inspired Romantic painters and the authors of fairy tales, Tereza’s work establishes a melancholic folklore which feels wholly original; her use of photography to enhance the limitations of vision, rather than assuage them, is subversive. Obscured faces are a common feature of her work; photographs such as ‘The Unseen’ capture a feeling of interiority which maintains her penchant for concealment – an inclination which underpins the idiosyncrasy of Tereza’s approach. In ‘Cometes’, the camera flash harshly defines the figure, but their identity is secreted by the long sweep of hair, a mantle which precipitates a ghostly shape.
Her photographs betray a world alive with stories, yet they are also peculiarly timeless; devoid of attachment to contemporary signifiers, the spectator is cut adrift from the comforting trappings of normalcy. This temporal lacuna is deliberate; Tereza has commented that she is inspired by ‘questions that don’t change with time’ – the relationship between humans and nature, the desire for connection with a spiritual world. Her work refuses to provide an answer to such queries, but that is likely the point; in charting the emergence of fiction from fact, Tereza reveals the existence of magic within the ‘real world’; her photographs catalogue – beyond the solace of knowledge – a realm fabricated by the mysterious beauty of that which cannot be explained.
By Katherine Riley