Anastasia Samoylova is an American artist who moves between observational photography, studio practice and installation. By utilizing tools and strategies related to digital media and commercial photography, her work explores notions of environmentalism, consumerism, and the picturesque.
Her new book Floridas: Anastasia Samoylova & Walker Evans will be published by Steidl in February 2022. In 2020-2021 her ongoing project FloodZone was presented in solo exhibitions at the Chrysler Museum of Art; HistoryMiami Museum; Orlando Museum of Art; Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa; and The Print Center Philadelphia. The book of the project was published by Steidl in 2019. In 2022 the project will be exhibited at the Eastman Museum. Samoylova is shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2022.
FloodZone is an expansive photographic project reflecting and responding to the problem of rising sea levels. The project began in Miami in 2016, when I moved to the area, my first experience living in a tropical environment. It was the hottest summer on record.
Through daily walks I began to realize how the city’s seductive tropical palette and quality of light concealed the growing dissonance between its booming real-estate market and the ocean’s encroachment on its shoreline. Ocean views are prized in the real-estate world, with little regard for building projects’ locations in high-risk flood zones. Investors seem to turn a blind eye to the reality that Miami is steadily slipping underwater. Miami Beach, in particular, is a striking case study: the artificial island boasts some of the most luxurious properties, but it is subject to regular flooding. Living in Miami is bittersweet: it looks and feels like a paradise, but the only secure roots belong to mangrove trees.
Florida. The sunshine state. The political swing-state. The swampland paradise. The refuge of excess. The tourist fantasy. The real estate deception. The sub-tropical fever dream. The place where image and reality become inseparable.
In the past few years I have been photographing Florida intensively, and extensively, from the Keys to the state borders with Alabama and Georgia. It is a stark place, culturally, politically, economically, climatically, and it wears this starkness quite visibly. It is there in the fragile landscapes, in the precarious tourist industry, in the boom and bust of its cities, and on the faces of its diverse citizens.
I make my photographs on wandering road trips, often encountering the most telling subjects by chance. The images are layered, with subtle references both to Florida’s complex history, and to the way it has been photographed by others, most notably by Walker Evans. This ongoing project is amounting to a nuanced portrait not just of Florida, but of contemporary USA more broadly. What is happening in the extremes of Florida is happening across the country.