With a preference for portraiture and an artistic attraction to “modern freshness,” Slovakia-based artist Maria Svarbova produces expressive photographs that explore everyday actions and reimagine routine. This interest in repetition is particularly evident in her photos of swimmers, a subject she continues to revisit time and time again.
Set in Slovakian swimming pools dating back to the Socialist era, these peculiar photographs span several series, including Swimming Pool, Origins, and The Tribune. Each one illustrates the repeating patterns and incidental symmetry inherent to the sport. This is especially apparent in the monotonous poses of the swimmers, who, according to the photographer, “are as smooth and cold as the pools’ tiles.” Though the swimsuit-clad individuals are often shown mid-stretch or about to dive, their expressions and bodies imply little movement. Instead, they evoke an ironic sense of synchronized stillness.
Inspired by each pool’s retro aesthetic, Svarbova opts for a pastel palette with occasional pops of primary colors. This juxtaposition of tones results in a sterile atmosphere that accentuates the dream-like quality of the swimmers’ stances. This focus is further stressed by the swimmers themselves. In some cases, Svarbova includes multiple models in a single photograph. However, for the most part, the images have been digitally edited to feature the same copied-and-pasted individual, emphasizing the uniformity—and surrealism—of the scenes.
To see more of Svarbova’s strange swimming pool photographs, check out her Instagram.