Sag Harbor photographer Francine Fleischer just opened a brand new show, Swim: The Water Between, at Tanto Tempo Gallery in Kobe, Japan this week.
The exciting exhibition, running May 10–June 22, marks Tanto Tempo’s six-year anniversary and brings Fleischer’s series of swim photographs to the other side of the world.
Swim features multiple images shot at a magical cenote, or ceremonial underground pool, most often found in Mexico and Central America, and used for human sacrifice by the ancient indigenous civilizations there.
The photographs capture dozens of different people, of all shapes and sizes, swimming in the black water of what is today a recreational local swimming hole.
“I’ve been returning to this spot to photograph the ever-changing cast of characters in this immortal pool,” Fleischer explains of her series. “The dark waters are deep below the earth’s surface and lit from above by a hole in the ground revealing sky and sunlight,” she continues, adding, “Looking down on the swimmers in these inky waters, is a bit like looking down the rabbit hole into another world.”
Her pictures take on an almost surreal quality as Fleischer’s subjects appear to be floating in space, with only their bodies, white splashes of water and the occasional hanging vine are seen, suspended in the deep blackness that surrounds them.
At other times, the photos become more about the people themselves, interacting with one another and laying bare our humanity, both in differences and similarities as a species. As the gallery notes in its statement, humans are at the top of the world’s food chain, yet Fleischer manages to make them appear small, like koi in a tiny pond.
“Sometimes it is an allegorical scene illustrating my subterranean dreams, other times I am a merely a voyeur, capturing the body politics and random scenarios, the contradictions of light and dark, levity and gravity, reality and reverie, tribulations and joy, and, of course, sinking and swimming,” Fleischer says of the cenote and the people within it. “Each time I return here, I am drawn in by these contradictions, the human conversations and the random choreography below.”
Fleischer flew to Japan for the opening reception of Swim and Tanto Tempo’s anniversary party on May 10. Utakatado Publishing released her photo book, also titled Swim, on the same day.
For anyone who may be in Japan, Tanto Tempo Gallery (tantotempo.jp) is located at 2-4-8 Kaigan-dori in the Chuo-ku ward of Kobe.
Fleischer’s Swim series will also be exhibited this year at Paris’ Mois de la Photo-OFF Festival (moisdelaphoto-off.org) in November, and at Blue Sky Gallery (blueskygallery.org) in Portland, Oregon in December.
Visit francinefleischer.com to see more of Fleischer’s work.