The swimming pool is a site of unintentional eye-pleasing symmetry. The decorative tiles coupled with the reflections in crystal clear waters create mirrored imagery that often abstracts the surrounding environment. Photographer Maria Svarbova captures this serendipitous repetition—and more—in her ongoing series of surreal synchronized swimmer portraits.
Known for the distinct style of her swimming pool photos, Svarbova seeks spaces that lend themselves to mirroring. She’s based in Slovakia and takes an interest in its 20th-century Socialist architecture and public spaces, which offer a Brutalist, retro aesthetic. To bring them into the current era, she employs digital techniques to contemporize them. One way is by shooting portraits of her models and then digitally cloning the same individuals within a single composition.
The content of the photographs are mesmerizing in their attention to detail and repetition, but it’s also the subjects themselves that add to the allure of Svarbova’s work. The swimmers, clad in bright suits and caps, appear “demure” in their body language as they huddle quietly together or stare at the viewer with silent expressions—begging questions about their vacant stillness. This juxtaposition, against the pastel backdrop of an orderly geometric patterning, give the images a quirky and contemporary vibe akin to a Wes Anderson film.
Svarbova has her work published in a book titled Swimming Pool. It’s now available on Amazon.