A visitor’s experience at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library now begins with an exhibit that’s uniquely appropriate to summer: a series of photographs by Slovak artist Maria Svarbova entitled “Swimming Pool.”
“Swimming Pool” is Svarbova‘s largest series yet, originating in 2014 and continuing to develop to date. The exhibit will be open through September 22.
Sparked by a hunt for interesting locations, her fascination with the space of public swimming pools contributed to developing her visual style. The sterile, geometric beauty of old pools set the tone for these photographs.
Each features a different pool, usually built in the communist era, in various locations in Slovakia. There is an almost cinematographic quality to the highly controlled scenes that Maria captures. The figures are mid-movement, but there is no joyful playfulness to them. Frozen in the composition, the swimmers are as smooth and cold as the pool tiles. The colors softly vibrate in a dream-like atmosphere.
“We sought out Maria’s work after our CEO, Cecilia Rokusek, experienced it in Florida,” says Stefanie Kohn, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library curator. “As an artist, Maria is focused on the aesthetic these spaces provide. For our visitors, the series provides a look at the lingering presence of communism in Central Europe from a standpoint that’s very different from what you’ll see in our ‘Revolution 1989’ exhibit.”
Despite the retro setting, the pictures somehow evoke a futuristic feeling, as if they were taken somewhere completely alien. There is no disturbing emotion, there is no individuality in their stillness. The artificial detachment, created by Svarbova’s vision, allows a unique visual pleasure, unattainable in real life.