“553 Bucket List Ideas to Do Before You Die [New for 2022!],” states one of the millions of articles that pop up when searching “Bucket list items” on google. Have you ever driven down Route 66? Taken a painting class? Gone on a blind date? Partied in a private boat at a nightclub? Seen a Broadway play? Gotten a tattoo? Skydived? The endless agenda of must-dos, as cliché as it sounds, can stimulate FOMO into (almost) anybody. Especially after two years spent dreaming of a hypothetical future filled with all the things we weren’t able to do because of Covid-19, and gradually recalling all the ones that we always wanted to do and never found the time to. In the top 10 of the umpteenth cookie-cutter article, Swim with Dolphins wins fifth place. Supposedly amused, and intrigued, by the platitudes himself, the Berlin-based artist Max Zerrahn titled his second photobook as the corny list item: “Mit Delfinen schwimmen, Swim with Dolphins.”
Divided into eight chapters, each one named after a top bucket list idea, “Mit Delfinen schwimmen, Swim with Dolphins” collects portraits of the almost-surreal details populating fragments of our everyday surroundings. A lizard hanging on the wall, skewered with a pin; a (ceramic?) dove comfortably looking out the door-window of a living room; a blooming pink tree standing out in front of a ‘70s boxy block of flats; a plastered wall with polka-dot scrapings; a pair of bird toy wings left on the street, wide opened; a shoe print engraved on concrete behind the wheel of a car, these are some of the common irregularities that the photographer’s eye caught, and brought together in this bitterly playful publication. The juxtaposition of catchy titles representing the archetypes of people’s most popular (and somehow consumerist) aspirations—such as See the Mona Lisa, Climb a Mountain, or Find True Love—against photographs that show the ordinary oddities of the life we ultimately live in, results in an alienating contrast and a comical reaction in the viewer; sometimes careless, other times certainly more thoughtful.