Barking Mad? Photos of Dogs Floating in Swimming Pools

This week’s unconventional Sunday Read is a kooky new calendar to see you into the new decade: the latest project by photo artist Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek.

Does it get more hipster kitsch than this? In Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek’s latest series-slash-2020 calendar, Afghan rescue hounds of different shapes and sizes float in motel swimming pools in Palm Springs and Los Angeles. They say you should never work with children or animals, but Gebhart de Koekkoek didn’t heed this advice, and perhaps we should all be grateful because without it we wouldn’t have these pictures. But why Afghans? “I did try with Wiener dogs before, but somehow they didn’t float,” says the artist. “So I [tried] Afghan hounds and they float just perfectly because of their aerodynamic forms. Also they are super chill and appreciate it.”

Gebhart de Koekkoek, who is based between Vienna and Berlin and describes his work as “okay”, has worked with animals before: a popular series documenting cats jumping across various rooms and an illustrated guide to better living with alpacas have formed the premise of his last two calendars. “My work is meant to make people feel good and entertained whenever they look at it. There are so many bad vibes and so much sad news in our world. So I’m happy to make my audience laugh and enjoy some silly images for a moment when they look at one of my calendar images. That’s the biggest motivation for me to make a calendar every year.”

“I’m happy to make my audience laugh and enjoy some silly images for a moment”

The thirteen pictures that make up his 2020 creation certainly do that: each canine is set in their own private pool, a microcosm of Americana, with distinct slivers of southern Californian sky and palm trees soaring gloriously overhead. There’s the elegant, long-faced Willy, with luscious, silver-grey locks; Echo, all glossy, coal-black grooming; and, of course, Noodle, a silken puffy cloud of loveable-ness. It’s easy to see why, with their knowing, aloof poises and lean, long limbs, Afghans are often seen as the supermodels of the dog world—with high maintenance characters to boot. “Most of them are big divas and don’t go anywhere they don’t want to. But I asked them during the heatwave if they wanted to come with me to cool down in the fresh pools of LA and Palm Springs, so they couldn’t say no,” Gebhart de Koekkoek recalls.

Afghans originally hail from the cold mountainous regions of Afghanistan, and are one of the most ancient breed of dog in the world—thought to date back more than 2000 years. Even if you’re not a fan of dogs, they’re beguiling creatures; comical and beautiful in equal measure. Although the artist makes no claim of a higher purpose than to make us smile (and is there, in fact, a higher purpose than that?), it’s clear that Gebhart de Koekkoek recognizes the unique qualities of the Afghan, enough to immortalize them (or at least, keep us captivated with them all year long).


Floating Afghans 2020 Calendar

Out now