In the project „No Running“ I deal with the water worlds in Berlin, because I was directly impressed by the diversity and variety of the swimming pools. There are 62 pools in total, which are very different because they date from various decades and sometimes even centuries. Over time I’ll try to capture all of them.
From a swimmer‘s perspective, I observed that there are many „no photography“ signs in most of the pools, which only reinforced the need for me to do just that. It is important to me to capture the deserted space, as you don‘t know it like that and rarely see it, as it is a public place of encounter and movement.
The subject matter allows for many questions; from the origin of the hygienic circumstances, as it used to be the best option to wash oneself, to survival through the ability to swim. But also what becomes of the place of the swimming pool when it is quiet and still, as in the photos, and what function it then has at all. The place itself as a parallel world to escape from everyday life for a short period of time – for whatever reason.
Public pools can never be planned for the long term, as they are constantly changing and transforming in order to remain up-to-date and attractive. They are there to provide for society’s needs and describe the state of current society and what its focus is. It is impossible to say what bathing needs there will be in 20 years’ time, and with the ever increasing crises, in my opinion public pools will face major change.
Especially the last years where challenging – first covid and now the big energy crisis: will the many swimming pools soon really be empty and do my pictures therefore perhaps show a reality of the near future?
Pia Henkel is a Berlin-based photographer born in 1995 in Herzberg am Harz, Germany.
When asked why she became a photographer, Pia often replies that it is because she doesn’t trust her eyes. While this may seem contradictory, it reflects the fact that her unique perspective has given her a deep appreciation for the complexity and beauty of the world, and a profound understanding of the power of images to convey emotion and meaning.
© Text and pictures by Pia Henkel