As part of the art and design program at UVU, the Noorda Center for Performing Arts hosted guest lecturer Anastasia Samoylova on her prolific work in photography. She took attendees through her books Landscape Sublime, FloodZone, Floridas and her current project Image Cities.
Samoylova was born in Russia and earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Design from Russian State University for the Humanities. While studying in Moscow many assignments required her to construct models out of paper and photograph them. It fascinated her to see how three-dimensional spaces could be reduced to two dimensions in unique and interesting ways. In the end, she preferred the images over the models and became interested in understanding how photography shapes the way in which people view the world.
From there, she moved to the United States and began studying photography at Bradley University where she graduated in 2011, after which she began teaching. In 2015 she published her first collection of photography, Landscape Sublime.
Landscape Sublime was influenced by the models which she first photographed during her time studying Environmental Design in Russia. She took stock images of notable environmental landmarks such as Yosemite and the Matterhorn and crafted sculptures out of them to emphasize the effect photography has on creating a separate reality, a fact which is further exaggerated by how she photographs her own sculptures, obscuring the original subject behind multiple layers.
In 2016, she left her full-time job teaching photography and moved to Miami. It was there she began to redefine herself as an artist. She took to the streets of her new home with a camera and captured photographs of what she saw. Slowly, her second collection of photography began to form which was published in 2019 and was called FloodZone, documenting the effects hurricane Matthew had on her local community and bringing recognition to the reality of global warming. The publication was a critical success.
Her next publication delved deeper into her home which was entitled Floridas and was published in 2022. Like Landscape Sublime, Floridas drew upon a game of perspectives, but unlike Landscape Sublime, these images weren’t crafted in a studio. Often creating a collage-like effect, Samoylova’s photos feel surreal in their depiction of the image that Florida puts forth as a paradise for tourists, and the crumbling infrastructure which is in a perpetual state of construction lurking beneath.
Image Cities, her current project, is developing further the idea presented in Floridas to a global scale. Traveling to such major cities around the world like Moscow and New York City, she is exposing the images these cities put forth of themselves and the strange reality of how urban landscapes are becoming generic copies of one another. It is intended for publication sometime in 2023.
Salmoyova’s ability to portray how photography skews one’s perception of the world while at the same time exposing issues such as global warming and commercialization is what makes her work so prolific and far-reaching, and is the reason why she is currently one of the most impressive voices in photography.