The Immersive Photographs of Johanna Keimeyer

An artist's repeated baptisms in hotel pools of the world

Words By Elly Harvie

Johanna Keimeyer’s photographs arrest the unending stream of images that beset our digital lives. Pool Around Me, now showing at Hotel Oderburger, documents the Berlin-based artist’s immersion in over 75 hotel pools worldwide.

The swimming pool photographs reference the material origins of photography – as liquid chemicals – back when photographers had to enter a darkroom to bring their images to life. We see Keimeyer’s repeated baptisms, the record of a modern search for spirituality in the luxurious and alienated setting of a hotel swimming pool.

Artists Ed Ruscha and David Hockney have made iconic images of swimming pools, and Keimeyer, an avid freediver, immerses viewers in this subject matter. Despite travelling to some of the world’s most photogenic locations, with kind support from Martin Nicholas Kunz, the artist chooses to show us the amniotic continuity of water around the globe. “To me, water means natural flow,” she remarks, “if there is a stone, water finds its way around it.” As we know but easily forget, water constitutes 80% of the atoms in a human body and it is the unique ingredient in our solar system that supports life on earth. When asked about her artistic relationship to Berlin, her response is consistent with this wide-angle perspective:; “Berlin is always pulsing. But I think being creative you can be anywhere. It depends on your inner dialogue, not on the location.”

Ambivalently, the photos are exhibited in a hotel, the same one in which Keimeyer staged her graduation piece Everything is Illusion in 2012. This large-scale video and photo exhibition also linked water synesthetically with consciousness. A kind of surface tension unites Keimeyer’s work. As though enacting Heraclitus’ theory of constant flux, her current exhibition will see her dive, mermaid-like, into her past in a performance piece set in the hotel’s pool area. It will be as ephemeral as smoke, or the glitter of light on the surface of water.

Keep up with future exhibitions and learn more on Johanna’s website.