A Wet Paradise

To photographer Rishabh Kaul, the public pool is an ecosystem unto itself, a vast network of flesh and water.  

As summer fades, memories of days spent in the sun can meld together. The smell of chlorine and old flip-flops. The sting of a fresh sunburn. The accidental nap between french fries and the final chapter in that book.

One can’t help but recall these glories of summer when looking at Rishabh Kaul’s mesmerizing essay, “Wet Paradise.” Completed over the course of two months for the the Prague Quadrennial 2015, the essay captures the goings-on at the Podoli Swimming Pool in the Czech Republic. “It slowly became clear that swimming is just a small part of what really goes on here,” Kaul said. “Athletes, sun-bathers, social butterflies, lovers, loners, friends, families—all gather in this public space with different agendas and release a lightness of being that is so quintessentially Czech.”

But the black and white photographs highlight not only the cannonballs of young boys and girls, but also the architecture that gave rise to such revelry. The lights at the bottom of the pool, the arrangement of the tiles, and the lone lounge chairs all become characters in Kaul’s paradise.

Below you’ll find a selection of images from the essay as well as Kaul’s own captions, describing not only the images themselves, but also how he understands the relationship between pool and swimmer.