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A Depth Most Would Drown in
Elisa Maenhout

2021
Hardcover / 120 pages / 300 × 230 mm
Published by MER. B&L

Mermaids, as ancient iconic phenomena, have persistently made their way throughout our cultural history; in the guise of marine deities, water nymphs and tritons in the Classical Period, as fish-tailed sirens in the European Middle Ages, as a symbol of female sovereignity and masters of the sea. In the twenty-first century, they are riding the wave of social media, they saturate the world as expansive icons of fashion, entertainment, tourism, ecological crisis, personal empowerment, and gender fluidity. 

Photographer Elisa Maenhout (°1997) is interested in why these fictitious women with their typical fishtail still continue to intrigue people today. 

Elisa Maenhout’s photography documents the magic, diversity, comradery, and breathlessness of those who live their lives in water’s embrace. Just as merfolk float between two worlds, defying categorisation with their impossibly hybrid bodies, Maenhout’s images capture the confluence of boundaries that frame the twenty-first century mer-community. Playing with perspective, her work illuminates the amphibious edges where human meets fish, water meets land, and fiction becomes reality. Her images submerge us in a world free from the constraints of gravity and predictability. Here fish soar and swoop through liquid as birds fly through air, light fractures and darkens the deeper eyes move, transforming colours and visual dynamics. This alien environment is hostile to human physiology, yet it is also a place where myth bends to truth, where an exceptional human in a mermaid skin glides into focus to remind us that life on earth began in a beautiful but fragile oceanic soup. (Sarah L. Peverley)

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