Damion Berger : In The Deep End
With his In The Deep End series, Damion Berger makes use of photography’s ability to de-contextualize the familiar and create visual narratives, evoking a fusion of dreamlike memories and sense of childhood regression. The clear, warm water of the swimming pool represents an intersection between the cultural and social pursuit of leisure, the natural element of water, and man-made space. The pool provides a place of temporary detachment from life’s everyday routine, people seem liberated and at once removed from any social reference as they float, dive, sink or swim through the water.
Smuggling a camera into public pools where photography is of course prohibited, Berger was able to work without the knowledge or complicity of his subjects as he attempted to produce photographs that simultaneously rekindle memories of childhood and the joys of summer times past. Berger also wanted to subvert certain waterborne fears that often stem from childhood. Since seeing the film Jaws for the first time, the potential presence of a shark below the surface, no matter how irrational the possibility, such as in a swimming pool, has become a powerful phobia. Placing a small rubber toy shark close to the lens and altering one’s perception of reality and scale, the indelible silhouette of the large dorsal fin angled towards an unsuspecting swimmer is enough to evoke dread and anxiety in us all.
In The Deep End is an intriguing mix of wonderful, artistic, but also fascinating photography, that leaves the viewer in a state of pleasant confusion.