Wonderland.

POOLSCAPES

This nostalgic coffee table book will make you want to be on permanent holiday.

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - swimming into the pool

Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - swimming into the pool
Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Hazy, lazy days. Sun-bleached tiles. The inviting, dappled surface of a pool. Sun rays breaking over the corner of a building.

Snapshots like this make up the majority of our fading holiday memories (plus like 90% of the scenes in Call Me By Your Name), but before you feel majorly bummed that you can’t live the life forever – they’ve now been permanently encapsulated in a dreamy photo book.

Shot by Brooklyn-based photographer Karine Laval, the book’s focus is swimming pools, with the images taken over the course of ten years. With a saturated, nostalgic soft-focus, you can’t help but reminisce back to holidays with your family when you literally didn’t have a care or responsibility in the world. *weeps*

We chatted to Karine about the inspiration behind the book…

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - immersed in the pool

Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - immersed in the pool
Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Why swimming pools?
It was kind of an accident. In 2002, I had just gotten my first Rolleiflex camera and I went to Barcelona on vacation. I’ve always loved being near water, so I went to the public beach in Barceloneta and came across its outdoor public pool. I was lying down when I was struck by the repetitive gestures of the bathers – it kind of reminded me of the gestures of contemporary dancers on a stage. So I started to capture these scenes, not really moving the camera. I just let people come in and out.

How did it develop into a series?
Later, after developing the couple of films I had shot, I decided to shoot more public pools around Europe and develop a series on the subject that would capture not only the theatricality of the place and its sociological aspect, but also its sense of memory and nostalgia.

Apart from swimming pools, what are you inspired by?
I was somehow taken back to my own childhood memories while working on this project. I even revisited some of the places of my childhood, like Lake Annecy where I had gone on holiday with my uncle and aunt. The aesthetic of the images with its saturated, shifted colours and overblown light was somewhat influenced by the old super-8 movies my grandfather, and then my father, shot during summer vacations in the 60s and 70s. I grew up watching these homemade movies on a big screen in my grandparents’ living room. I was so excited when the light was turned off and the film started rolling. After years of projecting them, some of the films would start burning and the projected image would disintegrate in front of our eyes, like a tsunami swallowing the entire frame. I was fascinated by these movie sessions and was influenced by these grainy, saturated images.

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - jumping into the water

Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - jumping into the water
Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Your work really seems to capture the essence of summer – why is this usually the focus?
Actually, I also shot an entire series, called “White”, in Norway during the course of a few winter. But that’s true, most of my work, or at least the work I’m recognised for, captures the essence of summer. It’s funny because I was born dead of winter, at the end of January. Maybe that’s why I long for and thrive in summer.

A lot of your work focuses on water. What interests you about this setting?
I’ve always had a strong and natural connection to water ever since I was a child. My father was a competitive swimmer and I learned to swim at a very young age. I also sailed with my family, and I spent part of my adolescence in the Caribbean islands where my father lived for a while. I even chose New York City – incidentally also an island – as my home, partly because of its proximity to water. I find water to be appeasing, regenerating, meditative, and exhilarating. But I think more generally, water is life.

Your images are also very dreamlike – any reason you like to shoot like this?
I’m fascinated by the ability of photography to create illusion and question our sense of perception. I am also interested in photography’s possibilities to explore the imagination and the subconscious, using colour, form and light to create images that often flirt on the edge of representation and abstraction.

What’s next for you?
I’m continuing to expand upon my series, Heterotopia, which I began in 2014. For this, I’ve been shooting in private and public gardens in Europe and all over the US. There are specific places around the world that I want to include in the series so I think I’ll be working on this project for a while. And I’m working on a collaborative sound/visual project with composer and musician Aaron Kruziki, with whom I’ve collaborated on videos, installations and performances for a few years now. We’re hoping to release an LP inspired by the images and videos I made from Heterotopia by the end of the year.

Find out more about Poolscapes here

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - sitting by the pool
Poolscapes by Karine Laval - coming out of the pool

Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - sitting by the pool
Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl
Poolscapes by Karine Laval - coming out of the pool
Poolscapes by Karine Laval - diving into the pool

Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - diving into the pool
Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl
Poolscapes by Karine Laval - by the pool
Poolscapes by Karine Laval - outdoor pool

Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - by the pool
Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl
Poolscapes by Karine Laval - outdoor pool
Poolscapes by Karine Laval - palm tree by the water

Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl

Poolscapes by Karine Laval - palm tree by the water
Poolscapes by Karine Laval, published by Steidl
Words
Maybelle Morgan
POOLSCAPES

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