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Leandro Erlich: Swimming Poolat P.S.1 Contempory Art Center

Sentimental Conversation

Who in their right mind would spend two months constructing a swimming pool that nobody can swim in? The answer: Argentine artist Leandro Erlich. But Erlich has good reason for bucking convention. His dysfunctional pool, now on view at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, is cooler than any your kids have plunged into. Unlike its counterparts at Ys all over town, Erlich’s creation lets them walk, talk and breathe underwater.

Set up in a duplex gallery, the work first appears to be a regular pool complete with a deck and ladder. But as kids step closer, they’ll notice clothed people sauntering beneath the water’s surface—who aren’t even wet. To find out how Erlich pulls off the trick, tots can descend to the basement, where they’ll see that an inch-thick layer of clear acrylic supports the water, simulating a full pool.

P.S.1 founder Alanna Heiss says the pool fosters “an atmosphere of play.” She encourages parents to let their tots climb the ladder and run up and down the stairs. Because “children do not reject illusion as quickly as adults,” Heiss says, a visit allows them to feel empowered, as if they have “entered a fairyland in which you can walk underwater.” We don’t know about the fairyland, but the pool is certainly a warm tribute to frisky summer days.

Elif Ince

Leandro Erlich: Swimming Pool is on view at P.S.1 through Oct 5.

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