Writing about Contender Tereza Vlčková‘s submission is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Her latest series, Sentiment, is packed with photographic and post-production techniques, references and, above all, art “isms.” Although essentially a self-portrait series from a photography point of view, perhaps the most prominent aesthetic characteristic about Vlčková’s images is the lack of photography in a traditional, recognizable form. Photography here has been stripped of its conventional features, and has been reduced to a mere method. In Vlčková’s own words, it is a “depersonalization of photography,” and she is “creating a world of its own aesthetics and visual rules,” in effect “refusing photography’s classic appearance, but at the same time still making use of this medium.”

Crossing the Line, from the series Sentiment, 2010-2011 by Tereza Vlčková

And then there is the painterly quality. Vlčková doesn’t just stop at removing the photographic aspect. Between the digital manipulation, the circular format, the application of mannerismsand careful composition, the images, according to Vlčková, have become “a tribute to the painters, whose works have (intentionally and not) materialized in my creation.” Elements like the bowler hat, which is a clear nod to René Magritte‘s famous paintings, are subtly embedded in the images as references to surrealism and symbolism.

Absent from Shivering, from the series Sentiment, 2010-2011 by Tereza Vlčková

In her statement, Vlčková writes:

From the beginning, the self-portrait study did not even try so much to mirror my actual disposition, [but] rather [was] a yearning to get closer to a given person, at least for a while—no matter whether heroes from films, literary personae, persons from paintings or people from my own worlds and dreams. The situation tells the story of what I never was, of whom I have ever dreamt of becoming, of what I ever wanted to be— [if even] just for an eyewink… But nevertheless, the images reveal me, solely, and more than I admitted to myself during the photographed moment. The collection arose from the necessity to explore and reevaluate myself, arising from a certain degree of self-centeredness, within life’s helplessness, to describe myself whichever way. My work reveals past personal “dramas” (which many times eventually seemed trivial)… The milestone is shown as an imaginary horizon divided by a colored line. It expresses the passing of certain life stages or tests and symbolizes imaginary and abstract borders, life’s shifts and situations, which often bring along particular, personal poetics bounded by absurdity and fatalness. It is on the threshold of these circumstances that we stand often, motionless and helpless, waiting for our “deliverance.”

Unwanted Connected, from the series Sentiment, 2010-2011 by Tereza Vlčková

Born in Vsetín, Czech Republic, Vlčková has studied at the Institute of Creative Photography at Silesian University in Opava, in her native country. She has shown her works around the world, most recently at the 2010 Paris Photo, gallery Lefebvre in Paris and at the Aperture Foundation in NYC (the exhibition, reGeneration2, is currently on view in Monterrey, Mexico).

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