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Mária Švarbová's Swimming Pools

7 years ago

7 days, 7 images on the World Photography Organisation Instagram feed


Maria Svarbova was born in 1988 in Slovakia. She studied restoration and archeology, and found a medium for her artistic expression through photography. Since 2010, Maria has focused on developing her own photographic language, quickly gaining international recognition. Amongst awards, solo and group exhibitions, her work has been featured in Vogue, the Guardian, Instagram, and many other publications. 


Tell us more about the images we featured on the feed. Do you have a favourite and why?

In the Swimming Pool is the largest and continuing series. Sparked by a hunt for interesting locations, my fascination with the space of public swimming pools contributed to developing my visual style. The sterile, geometric beauty of old pools, usually built in the Socialist Era, set the tone for these photographs. There is almost a theatrical quality to the highly controlled sceneries that I capture. 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 colours softly vibrate in a dream-like atmosphere. Despite the retro setting, the pictures somehow evoke a futuristic feeling as well, as if they were taken somewhere completely alien. There is no disturbing emotion, there is no individuality in their stillness. My photos present an imaginary world (inspired by historic arti-facts and environments of Communist Czechoslovakia).




Why photography?

I took up photography 6 years ago and gradually as time goes by my work was getting better and better. When my photos were more refined, interesting offers came my way. I never planned to be a photographer, but my sister gave me my first professional camera. I was thrilled and I took pictures of absolutely everything. I took pictures of nature, details, people. 



Talk to us about style in photography. How do you visually approach each new project?

I have focused on photographing people from the start of my photographic career. They are the main source of inspiration for me. People fascinate me. Space, to me, has no meaning without humans. It becomes empty, and something is missing. The same goes the other way around. Humans have no meaning without the space, as if they didnt fit anywhere. The main focus of my series was to harmonize the humans and space.

In my series, my subjects are emotionless mannequins. Through blank stares, stiff poses and total absence of emotion, the series challenges the viewer to question the ingrained roles people play in society. Every image flows into another scene forming the overall narrative of the series; the emptiness and mindless inability to change one's predetermined role in life in the absence of emotion. 



What's next for you?

I with continue to fully develop the Swimming Pool series. And of course start with some new projects. Generally, I don’t like stagnation, I like people to work on themselves, to always improve. I would like to show people something new, something they haven't see before. It's hard but I'm trying. People should see new things.  I would like to have more solo exhibitions around the world.