Public swimming pools are certainly one of the last places where you would hope to find some respite or solitude. Public swimming pools are often characteristically normal with rowdy kids, shrieking teenagers, as well as merry making adults. It can be a place for many things, but hardly ever appropriate for some peace and quiet.
This is why you have to stop and give some attention to images of empty pools, devoid of any human presence and radiating an aura of tranquility. French-born, Brooklyn-based photographer Franck Bohbot’s Swimming Pool series does exactly that. Instead of the high-intensity activity level associated with public pools, we are made to gaze at these empty spaces where the still waters evoke serenity in place of boisterous action. One is also made to realize that these public places of recreation posses an architectural beauty that is often obscured.
Bohbot’s photographic essay investigates the vast public indoor pools of Paris, as they are uncharacteristically lacking any form of human chaos. Each one is shot from a similar perspective as Bohbot depicts the pools “empty of human presence,” also to lend the images a more enduring look. Bohbot allows some human presence here and there, as single individuals appear almost inconspicuously. You have to look hard to see them in some of the images. They are not easy to notice, but they are there, quite on purpose as tiny human representations adding contrast to the otherwise empty spaces. Bohbot explained their role in the series.
“I can’t avoid the power of the moment showing one little girl lonely in the pool, or one lifeguard on the sides, or of the other few people [whose presence] compromise the photography,” the photographer explains. In the end, it’s not the perfect image that interests him, but “the relationship between the water, the architecture and the individual.”
See Bohbot’s thought-provoking Swimming Pool series here.