A Depth Most Would Drown In (2020)

The mermaid is one of the most iconic creatures of all times. We know her through myths, stories, legends and fairy tales. Elisa Maenhout’s work explores the fascination for this phenomenon in this day and age and the inspiration it generates. Her photographic project is about people who identify themselves with these mythical creatures.

The mermaid radiates power, beauty and self-confidence. In a playful way mermaids tell us something about our society. Their story is a tale of self-fulfilment, autonomy and liberty. It is a statement that incorporates the right to express oneself. A sweet escape to a magical underwater world where there is no place for trouble. The mermaids and mermen experience their passion in a tight, but world spanning community. In this new world of deep oceans, shimmering scales and fish as friends, everything is possible.

Elisa plays with the invisible line between fiction and reality. The underwater images bring the fairytale to life, it recreates reality as a dream world. There, the line drawn between documentary photography and photography where the artist is staging the subject, grows thin. Framed between the surface and the bottom, between dream and reality, the mermaids move in a world of their own where the light behaves differently and where gravity seems an illusion. The contrast with the pictures taken above the water gives a necessary reality check.