“Deep inside the interior world of Tereza Zelenkova’s The Essential Solitude, time has ceased to exist. Webs of dust have gathered on unmade beds, folds of black velvet sit decaying and unkept, and mirrors have dulled and faded to darkness. Almost as if set in amber, this strange house is a place of peculiar stillness, save for a single figure who moves imperceptibly through its rooms. A being both male and female, human and creature-like, corporeal and imagined, it haunts the images, casting its black shadow across tapestried walls and never meeting our searching gaze.
Zelenkova made the photographs in this book across several visits to Dennis Severs’ House at 18 Folgate Street, London between 2017 and 2018. Conceived as a time capsule for the preservation of styles from centuries passed, the house was designed as an uncanny theatre, and in it Zelenkova located a place to stage a world of one's own.. Somewhere between seeing and feeling, mysticism and truth, dreaming and wakefulness, she invoked her vision for a form of pure solitude – an essential solitude, achieved only through imagination and contemplation, far away from the boundaries of the outside world.” — Joanna L. Creswell
The Essential Solitude
"I had known of Dennis Severs’ House at 18 Folgate Street for at least ten years by the time I made these photographs. Its original owner, Dennis Severs, who I never had the chance to meet, must have been an incredibly spirited personality with a profound imagination. I can see some of the interests we would have shared, not least among them a mutual appreciation for period interiors. According to Walter Benjamin, the interior represents the universe for a private individual; a world “in which things are freed from the drudgery of being useful.” Indeed, usefulness and practicality are concepts largely foreign to Dennis Severs’ House, and to art in general. Still, it is enough to look out from one of the house’s windows facing the glass and steel high-rises of the City, to be reminded of some of the oppressive realities of contemporary life. The uncanny timelessness of Severs’ interiors, which are made up not only of countless artefacts carefully arranged in individual rooms that each represent a slightly different historical period, but also various smells and sounds, together resulting in a complete disorientation of the senses. There’s no dogmatism, though, and no desire for historical accuracy, just the ephemeral atmosphere of a dream that transports you to some non-specific time." — Tereza Zelenkova
“The photographs in this book resulted from my visits to Dennis Severs’ House. They are deeply personal, yet they also attempt to speak about the universal experience of solitude, imagination, and beauty. Most of all, they pay homage to the solitude of a reader absorbed in a book; and to all the travelers who never leave their bedrooms.” — Tereza Zelenkova