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A depth most would drown in 

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. The mers’ playground is the same space that bewitched the ancients in Mesopotamia, prompting them to imagine the first half-ancients human, half-fish creatures. From the depths of the ocean to the shifting human, shoreline where opposites coalesce, Maenhout unsettles our notions of truth and difference by offering a glimpse of the modern mer’s experience and home. In tandem with quotations from the mers she photographs, her images ultimately speak to the enduring appeal of merfolk and their age-old connection with our desire to make sense of the human condition and the world around us.(Sarah L. Peverley)

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