Having fun with Perception: Anastasia Samoylova’s interpretation of Florida’s “Forgotten Coast”

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Russian photographer Anastasia Samoylova was selected earlier this year to produce a new body of work for MPB in cooperation with 1854 for the Shoot the Sequel: Then & Right now America campaign. The resulting images form the final part of her triptych on Florida, offering a sobering look at the state.

Within 1954, at the age of 56, photographer Berenice Abbott set off along with her Rolleiflex camera on an ambitious journey along the US Route 1 . Concerned about the impact cars were having on the landscape, Abbott targeted to capture the people and places – from The southwest motels to Maine vegetable farmers – that created the fabric of the East Coast. Nearly seven years later, inspired by Abbott’s voyage, and with a similarly environmentally focused mission, Miami-based artist Anastasia Samoylova took off in her own car to generate a vivid portrait of Florida’s “Forgotten Coast”.  

MPB Shoot the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

“Abbott’s work got me personally thinking about the road trip genre and it is possibilities. I wanted to see regardless of whether anything new could be said in it, ” Samoylova recounts. Realising that there are still so “few women photographers mixed up in genre”, Samoylova set herself a challenge to see whether the lady could revive new living into the field with a women perspective. From Robert Frank’s The Americans to Walker Evans’ photographs in The particular Mangrove Coast – another huge inspiration for Samoylova – the American car ride is traditionally and remains, a distinctly male-dominated genre. But Samoylova is no new person to breaking down barriers via her work: “I knew that I wanted to work against stereotypes”, she explains. The road and its capacity to “open up your literal boundaries” provided her the perfect opportunity to achieve this.

MPB Shoot the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

The photographer drove 675 miles with a 50mm size zoom lens provided by MPB the world’s largest reseller of image and video equipment – through her hometown all the way in the peninsula to Pensacola, to the westernmost city on the border of Alabama. It was on her 2-week-long loop back home that will she began her work with the Shoot the Sequel: Then & Now America campaign. Released in collaboration with 1854 for MPB , the commission tasked Samoylova and another selected photographer with capturing the iconic narratives of The united states in a new light.  

Visiting a variety of establishments in this “predominantly white area”, Samoylova’s images from the post office, the pool, the picket fence and the petrol station, amongst additional town staples offer regarding the current state of suburban America. While the omnipresence associated with red and blue invoke Republican and Democrat colour-coding, her emphasis on colour points to further binaries within the story of America. “Everything is really condensed and people who are at polar opposites, politically and financially coexist together, ” the lady asserts. To demonstrate her point, the photographer recalls finding two totally unique and contrasting individuals within an hour of each other while driving through the small lakeside city of Mount Dora. One, captured in Woman in mask, Mt Dora , is a 27-time skydiving champion wearing a facemask with the words ‘Trump 2024’ emblazoned across the front; while the other who can be seen within Ryder, Mt Dora, is an alternative radio station owner with a mohawk and thigh-high leather biker boots.  

MPB Take the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

MPB Shoot the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

“It’s so perfect there it is kind of dizzying”

Anastasia Samoylova

Samoylova’s investigation to the polarisation of Florida finds out an apt setting in Seaside, a small resort community and the location for the cult-classic film The Truman Show. “It’s so perfect generally there it’s kind of dizzying, ” she says. “But it is perfect in the sense that it seems like you’re walking into a leaflet. It’s absolutely polished. ” The perceived perfection, which is exaggerated by the sheer lighting of many of Samoylova’s images, acts as a reminder of the anxiety of the American Dream. Behind the glossy cars and pristine white municipal buildings in her photographs, there exists a hollowness that lurks in the empty swimming pool and the stunted palm trees. Undoubtedly, this is underpinned by Samoylova’s approach, which usually she believes requires a “deeper insight” from the viewer. “It’s never what it seems at face value, with my photography. I like to keep the mystery of photography because this is exactly what drew me to it to begin with, ” she comments. “Photography doesn’t tell you the whole tale at all; it’s about your perception. ”

MPB Shoot the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

Though the images at first glance appear to be traditional observational documentary, they are expertly crafted – a distinctive quality that unites all of her work – thanks to her background inside architecture and design. There’s an alchemy, to her framing which, in combination with her loaded depiction of colour can make her choreographer of the image. “I think the splicing of realities has to happen via framing, ” she explains. Her deft manipulation of frame is in component, a homage to the work of Walker, whose photographs she carried with her “like a Bible” throughout the trip. “Florida is just thus lush and so dense and it also could easily fall into a topic of cliched representation yet [Walker] effortlessly circumvents that with the way he frames things and his choice of subject. That’s an immediate juxtaposition to me, ” the lady explains.  

MPB Shoot the Follow up © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

MPB Shoot the particular Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

The impact of Walker’s photographs on Samoylova’s trip responds straight to the commission’s search for photographers who engage with the different methods America has been captured simply by generations of their peers. Being a platform for used machines, MPB’s commission explores how familiar tropes can be reimagined through different lenses. The company recirculates more than 300, 000 items of used kit every year (extending the life and innovative potential of photo and video equipment for makers all over the world), promoting a far more sustainable industry and enabling storytellers to capture America in new contexts.  

MPB Take the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

MPB Shoot the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

Reflecting on the impact the particular commission had on her, Samoylova says in all earnest that will “it really opened [her] eyes to how complex Florida is usually. ” While she has already been living in and photographing the state for some time, the Forgotten Coast was new territory and the trip gave her continuing Floridas project a new dimension. “It made me sympathise and understand where a great deal of this community was coming from, especially after visiting some of the events and seeing exactly how insular and cult-like some of the structures are. Most of that region is highly conservative, it is a very pro-gun county plus there’s no progressive information anywhere. But it’s however complex and there’s this need for understanding. ” 

The photographer’s objective is to have these images published in a book plus exhibited later this year alongside two other series she gets done on the state that also address fragile landscapes, the particular boom and bust from the cities and the diversity of its citizens. This final chapter as you will, adds to her everyday observations on the personality of American culture as a whole, reminding us of United states life in its present minute with a recognition of its structure past.  

MPB Shoot the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021
MPB Shoot the Follow up © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

MPB Shoot the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021
MPB Shoot the Sequel © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

MPB Shoot the Follow up © Anastasia Samoylova 2021

Alice Finney

Alice Finney is an arts and culture Editor and Writer, based in Berlin. A graduate of the Central School of Ballet and Sussex University, she specialises on paper about dance, design and popular culture. She has written for titles including MODERN Magazine, INDIE Magazine, Mixmag, gal-dem, HuffPost UK, plus Dezeen.

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