“Karine Laval: Reflections,” an exhibition opening today at Crane Kalman Gallery in London and on view until August 19, collects the photographer’s extended study of swimming pools in the U.S. and Europe. Pulling from her series “The Pool,” which pictures crowded diving boards and public pools filled with bodies silhouetted against pale or saturated skies, and “Poolscapes,” a more recent series that uses reflection and submerged swimmers in darker abstractions, the show coincides with the publication of Poolscapes by Steidl. Also on view in the show are images from Laval’s recent series, “Heterotopia,” her lush, metaphysical exploration of gardens.
As Laval told an interviewer, “The first ‘Pool’ series was in part a way to revisit memories from my childhood and there was also a sociological aspect to the work,” which records the structures of the pools and the clothes and gestures of the swimmers, details that are absent from the later “Poolscapes.” In those, she says, “I’m more interested in the pool as a mental and psychological space that reveals and conceals at the same time. I see the pool more as a metaphor, a mirror whose surface reflects the surrounding world but is also a gate into another dream-like world.” Together, her images present the pool as both a real place and one that exists purely in the imagination.