Tereza Červeňová: “How do you truly capture a feeling?”

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Through portraits of family and loved ones, Červeňová’s latest series is a journey of entanglement and self discovery

“I don’t see my works as ‘projects’,” Tereza Červeňová explains. Instead, she views her works as “chapters”. The latest, With and For, focuses on the interconnectedness of family, love, memory, and self. “My life has developed since my last chapter. It wasn’t intentional, but life just happened – this new series is a reflection of that time.”

Slovakian-born, London Based Červeňová completed a BA in photography at Middlesex University London, and in 2018, graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art. “I graduated, and after living in Greater London for five years, I moved to the centre of the city… For the first time I felt like I was building a home in London, and I was also in a developing relationship, all while navigating the pandemic, ” she explains. “[With and For]  documents this time of change, and the people who are, and were, in my life. Some people come and just pass through, some people leave a trace, and some cause a revolution. That’s what happened to me – a revolution.”

© Tereza Červeňová.

With and For teeters between love and heartbreak, as the artist ruminates on her own identity through photographs of loved ones. In this work I want to see my relationships and images like living entities,” she explains. “I examine all of them, their treatments, and their health.” For Červeňová each image is alive – she describes them as portals, transporting her back into her memories, allowing a “conversation and connection” with friends, family, and loved ones.

The project is currently on show at the artist-run gallery space Gg39 in Cardiff, as part of Survey II, the second edition of a touring exhibition highlighting early-career artists, led by Jerwood Arts.. Červeňová is exhibiting alongside nine other UK-based artists, nominated by 30 leading artists including Tai Shani, Jade Montserrat, and Jonathan Baldock. Červeňová was nominated by London-based Polish photographer Joanna Piotrowska, who she was introduced to a few years ago. “Ever since she has been a great supporter,” says  Červeňová. “I resonate with her work as a female artist. For me, her work takes the point of view of a woman, and I can tell that she is also very deep in her research.”

© Tereza Červeňová.

The photographs are scattered throughout the gallery space, clusters of one to three prints interacting with each other in a delicate choreography. By spreading the chapter through the room, and weaving it between the other artists’ installations, a sensitive, nebulous interaction begins between each image. Working exclusively in analogue, the fragility, physicality, and sensitivity of the material echoes the very emotions she explores. Each image bounces off the next, the combination of photographs building an autobiographical account of Červeňová’s life. 

“How do you truly capture a feeling?” she asks. With and For translates emotion, the photographs providing a private look into the lives of the people she cares for. “I hope people will look at the photographs and feel my love,” she says. “Everyone can relate to the feelings of love and pain. I want people to see these images, and hopefully they can relate to a story of love. You can see my chapter, and project your own feelings, memories, and stories onto it.”

© Tereza Červeňová.

Alongside the photographs is Červeňová’s first moving image work, a Super 8 reel made in London and Slovakia. Between smiling faces and heartfelt glances, small splices of life are revealed: her grandmother hangs clothes outside, the horses in the field graze, and a peaceful tenderness can be felt. “I’ve chosen to share how I feel, my joys and vulnerabilities, but also the authentic collaboration that is inherent when creating these works,” she says. “None of these images would happen without the people in them, without their love.” Červeňová is interested in the “life” of the photographs, their haptic tangibility and their emotional connections. With and For is a love letter to both family and oneself, while also reflecting on the heavy heart that can come from such emotion. It is a sacred, intimate, and delicate type of love.

© Tereza Červeňová.

Survey II was launched at G39 in Cardiff (03 July – 11 September 2021), and will travel to Jerwood Arts, London (01 October – 13 December 2021) before moving to Site Gallery, Sheffield (05 March – 15 May 2022).

Isaac Huxtable

Isaac Huxtable joined the British Journal of Photography in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Assistant. Prior to this, he studied a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.