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100 Swimmers by Attilio Fiumarella

November 30, 2022

100 Swimmers -2014

Attilio Fiumarella is a photographic artist interested in exploring social landscapes. 
After studying at Porto school of Architecture, he worked as an architect before completely dedicating himself to photography.
His practice draws from documentary and architectural photography and his work received a number of recognitions. Attilio was the winner of Portrait of Humanity 2020 organized by The British Journal of Photography in collaboration with Magnum Photo. He was also finalist of the Aesthetica Art Prize and the Head On Portrait Prize. 
In 2018, Attilio was awarded a grant from the Art Council England to complete his project on British Identity. This was displayed at Obscura festival in Malaysia and his dummy book was nominated for the UNSEEN Dummy Award in Amsterdam and for the FUAM Dummy Book Award in Istanbul. 
Attilio has been commissioned work by The Guardian, L’OBS, Die Welt, We Demain, Le Monde and the Financial Times.
His work is held in several private and public collections and has been displayed across Europe, USA, Asia, Australia and in the Space. Attilio is based in Portugal and UK.  

We met with Attilio to find out more about how this iconic photo came to be and how it ended up into space!

I always had a passion for photography although this wasn’t straight forward to me.

I discovered photography during a summer trip in Northern Europe when I was 10. This was when my father lent me his camera for the first time. Since then, I’ve always been interested in photography. During my master’s degree in architecture, I meet Mimmo Jodice, a great photographer from my city, Naples. That was the time when I stared to become a professional photographer (at least in my mind!)

How did you discover Moseley Road Baths? 
In 2013, I moved to Birmingham. For the first few weeks I was living in Kings Heath and the bus to the city centre would pass right by the Moseley Road Baths. From the outside, the building caught my attention immediately, but what trigged my curiosity were the three entrances to the building. One day I decided to push the bus stop button at the baths, I got in and asked for information about the building. A very kind lady showed me around and told me the story of the Mosley baths. Since then, I’ve been in love with the building and its great history.

What was your first impression of Moseley Road Baths?
I remember seeing the old pictures on the walls and that was already a great moment to see how much history the building held, but the moment I got in the Gala pool was just amazing. I still remember the greatness of that space and the shiver that ran down my spine.

How did the idea for the exhibition transpire? 
Few months after my first visit to the baths, I heard about an open call run by SomeCities. They were looking for photographic projects about communities. As I had recently learned how important the Moseley Baths were for the local community, I decided to start a project to highlight the connection between the community and the building and to make a wakeup call about the upcoming fate of the building. It was a six-month project. I started with a small group of swimmers that helped me out building a story for the project shooting in the different areas of the baths. Then, with the help of Dan Burwood and Andrew Jackson from SomeCities, and Ian Edwards from St. Paul Trust, I was able to recruit the 118 Swimmers for the last photograph, the one that really made the project stand out. 

The first exhibition of this project was in The Old Print Works. That was the perfect place to celebrate the local community and sharing with others the work we did in the Mosely Road Bath. Since then, the project was showed in exhibitions around the World and also in the outer Space!

What has been the most rewarding reaction to the images that you produced at part of the exhibition?
I’m proud to have had a small part in the major community effort that contributed to keep the Moseley Road Baths open. 

Why do you think this image of ‘The swimmers’ has such a great impact?
The passion of the 118 people standing for one hour in an empty and cold swimming pool is the sign of the determination and strength of this great community. It shows that when we stick together, we can change the future. This is a strong message to put out there and is not only related to the cause of the Moseley Road Baths. Together we can change the destiny of our world.

How did it end up in space?

That was an amazing moment!

The photograph “The Swimmers” won the Portrait of Humanity contest in 2020. This contest is run by the British Journal of Photography. Apart from the publication in a book, that year they sent the winning photographs into space. They launched a monitor with a weather balloon in the stratosphere. At the same time, the photographs were translated in a binary code and transmitted to other civilizations out there. 

I think it was a huge symbolic moment. Specially after the tough years we had just been through, that was a good sign of hope for our future. We need more of it!

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