Identity - - BOOKS -

by Fran­cis Hodg­son Hatje Cantz

It’s mag­i­cal. Im­mers­ing one’s self in cool, blue waters makes us feel as light as a feather; and sim­ply by re­lax­ing along­side it we be­come in­stantly glam­ourous. Yes, it’s the pool: one of sum­mer’s most recog­nis­able sites of in­dul­gence. This lush new book cap­tures this cov­eted es­cape and cul­tural phe­nom­e­non through the lenses of the world’s most tal­ented pho­tog­ra­phers.

In the fascinating in­tro­duc­tion to the 240-page vol­ume, Hodg­son, a cul­tural stud­ies pro­fes­sor, re­veals the com­plex so­cio-eco­nomic rit­u­als as­so­ci­ated with pool de­sign, in­clud­ing ref­er­ences to film, lit­er­a­ture, sport, ed­u­ca­tion, fam­ily life and, of course, life­styles around the world.

Over 250 cap­ti­vat­ing pho­tos with detailed cap­tion in­for­ma­tion are di­vided into sec­tions: ar­chi­tec­ture, div­ing, the strokes and cloth­ing. From the rooftop pool of Le Cor­bus­ier’s La Cité radieuse (Ra­di­ant City) in Mar­seille, France; to Mar­tin Parr’s thought-pro­vok­ing 1986 photo of Mos­ney hol­i­day camp, Ire­land; and the 1936 photo of a swim­ming pool in the midst of lux­u­ri­ant veg­e­ta­tion at the Arusha Ho­tel, Tan­ganyika (present-day Tan­za­nia) – each photo tells an im­por­tant story.

Pho­tog­ra­phers – in­clud­ing Henri Cartier-Bres­son, Gigi Ci­fali, Stu­art Franklin, Harry Gruyaert, Emma Hartvig, Jac­ques Henri Lar­tigue, Joel Meyerowitz, Mar­tin Parr, Paolo Pel­le­grin, Mack Sen­nett, Alec Soth, Larry Sul­tan, Alex Webb and oth­ers – co-cre­ate a com­pelling vis­ual nar­ra­tive. This is a smart and en­ter­tain­ing sum­mer read – es­pe­cially by the pool.

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