⟨ Art ⟩

Swimming Pool

The Long-Term Photography Project of Maria Svarbova

Texts / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

Maria Svarbova拍攝的泳池照片,彷彿也是泡在碧藍的池水裡的,泡久了,拿起來風乾,白色都黃了,而黃色就更黃,那黃是歲月,是不多久前留下的歷史,是Maria大把大把刻意抺在照片上的,也是泳池這空間不經意地刻上去的。

Maria現時居於中歐國家Slovakia,在1969年至1990年間,Slovakia曾是斯洛伐克社會主義共和國的一部分,在那個時代,Slovakia各處建起了大量公共設施,其中一項便是泳池,至今仍有不少被保留下來。這些富有社會主義特色的建築,簡陋卻有強烈的幾何美感,吸引了Maria在2014年時帶著相機及模特兒,拍下一系列的泳池照片,而且這計劃,至今仍在進行中。

照片中模特兒寫著鮮艷的泳裝,頭載著繽紛的泳帽。色彩活潑,動作卻是僵硬而機械化的,整齊而一絲不苟。他們似乎是在活動中突然被喊停,於是手腳腰肢都凝在空中,又似乎只是在模仿著某一個瞬間,讓人誤以為仍有後續,但其實一切就靜止於此。他們木無表情,看不到悲喜,且毫無個性。

雖然照片中每個人都看似沒有個人主張,然而,這並不代表Maria希望透過這些人物來表達任何訊息,又或是對過往政權發表任何批評。他們是這懷舊場境裡的工具,賦予空間特別的意義。「缺少了人,空間是毫無意義的。它會變得空虛,若有所失。」

The photographic series ‘In the Swimming Pool’ by Maria Svarbova exudes a nostalgic vibe of a surreal swimming pool. In a way, the photos also appear washed out as if they have been left in the water for long. The faded colors of the images seem to constantly remind you of a certain piece of history borne by the space of the swimming pool.

Maria currently resides in Slovakia. From 1969 to 1990, the Slovak Socialist Republic was the official name of that part of Czechoslovakia that is Slovakia today. During that socialist era, public swimming pools were built throughout the country and many are still kept today. These communist architectures are austere but possess an abstract beauty of geometry, which is exactly what attracted Maria to embark on this ongoing project in these swimming pool locations since 2014.

The models in the picture series are all sporting brightly colored swimsuits and swimming caps. But in contrary, they all seem to pose uniformly motionless, as if they are halted by something in the middle of certain mechanical movements. One has no clues whether the frozen limbs represent a definite moment, or actually imply any next steps. The absence of emotion only exacerbates the characterless natures of the models.

Despite the lack of any intended sense of personality among the models, Maria does not attempt to express any message through them, nor make any commentary about the regime back then. The models are merely objects against the nostalgic backdrop, recreating a particular meaning for such space. As Maria says. “Space has no meaning without humans. It becomes empty – something is missing.”