Xerjoff Magazine

The aquatic world of Maria Svarbova


Old swimming pools enlivened by models performing gymnastic and aquatic exercises. It is the magical and surreal world of Slovakian photographer Maria Svarbova, attracted by the rigorous architectures of the communist era.

It is a magical world made of pastel colours, a surreal, evanescent and metaphysical one, that created by the images of Maria Svarbova, young Slovakian photographer who, after archaeology and artwork restoration studies, entered the world of photography thanks to her strong interest in aesthetics.

In 2014, thanks to one of her friends’ suggestion, she visited an old and abandoned swimming pool in her hometown Zlaté Moravce and was so struck by its beauty to decide that these structures would become the main subject of her images. “When I saw that first pool – recalls the photographer – I was totally captured by its architecture and its huge space. I prefer old, not restored pools as I believe they are shrouded in a timeless aura”. This is what led Svarbova to capture various pools in different Slovakian cities, all built between 1920 and 1970, thus dating back to the time when Czechoslovakia was a communist country.

This is where the singular architectural style of these places come from, one characterised by pure and essential lines and by the lack of ornaments as well as by soft colours. “For me – goes on explaining the artist who can already boast various exhibitions in different parts of the world – it is sci-fi, a futuristic operation. In my works I love to combine old things such as old, communist buildings, with new ones. My ambition is to show people how the new can even result from a mix of old and new elements”. In her images, the pools are enlivened by models wearing primary-colour swimsuits and performing physical and aquatic exercises reminding of those of Spartakiads, gym events organised by the communist regime. “My images – says the photographer – express my imaginary world. With them I want to show people another side of normal life”. To anyone interested in learning more about Maria Svarbova’s creative world we recommend the photographic book “Swimming Pool” published by New Heroes and Pioneers.