There are more than 300 sculptures in the gardens of Versailles, the opulent château that housed France’s monarchy for more than a century, but tourists who go to visit the grand palace and its grounds during the winter don’t get to see them. To protect against rain that could freeze and break the fragile stone in cold weather, the statues are wrapped up and hidden in plain sight for the season.
Adrian Skenderovic, 31, was born and raised in Paris, but he’d never been to Versailles until this year. When he finally made the trip and began wandering the garden, he discovered the strange sight that has greeted millions of other visitors over the decades. But unlike tourists, who almost surely find the obscured art disappointing, Skenderovic was inspired.
“People doing art without knowing it fascinates me. I love subconscious art. I love to imagine the gardener wrapping the statues, without thinking about the fact that it could be considered aesthetic by some weird photographer. If you watch ordinary stuff with a different point of view, it can become art. I think it’s interesting. When you watch those wrapped statues, you can just imagine what’s behind. I love the mystery, when a photograph raises a question instead of giving an answer,” he said via email.
Skenderovic spent the day photographing as many sculptures as he could, but when he looked at the photos later on he wasn’t happy with what he captured. He returned a few months later to take the photos he ultimately chose for his series, “Mummies.” As he selected his favorite photos from the bunch, in addition to looking for good lighting and composition, he selected the statues that best presented “a human shape, a personality.” The effect can either be unsettling or unexpectedly elegant, depending on your outlook.
“Some people think about dead people in body bags or about the terrible picture of the Abu Ghraib prisoner being tortured. Some other people think they are beautiful; they think about princess dresses standing on the marble podium, like in a fashion week exhibition.”
You can follow Skanderovic on Instagram.