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Photo of the Week #171

Anastasia Samoylova

Woman in a red dress and blue heels standing with her back to the camera in front of a life-size printed facade of a building.

Arbat Street, Moscow, 2021 — from the series Image Cities


December 13, 2021
Like the woman in this photo, Anastasia Samoylova’s photography has a way of stopping a viewer in their tracks. Working with the tools and traditions of street photography, Samoylova crafts an air of unreality from the everyday. The urban photography in her Image Cities series focuses on the points where reality and fantasy intermingle in modern cities.

Samoylova was born in Moscow in 1984 and emigrated to the US in 2008. Her recent Image Cities work grew out of her FloodZone work from Miami—specifically the way developers of luxury properties would cloak construction sites in vastly scaled imagery and advertising. 

Returning to Moscow in 2021, after a decade's absence, Samoylova was struck by the surprising visual similarities between contemporary Moscow and Miami. She remarks that parts of both cities have come to resemble vast theater sets. Purveyors of luxury goods have always dealt in fantasy but, increasingly, that opulent imagery towers over us—sometimes looking at first glance like an actual building.

It’s not hard to read a picture like this as a visual allegory of sorts, albeit an open ended one: What happens when visions of consumer fantasy increasingly block out our view of what really is? Samoylova's pictures evade tidy answers—opting instead to ask compelling questions about the places we live and work.

The panel of judges for the first edition of the KBr Photo Award unanimously voted to award the prize to Anastasia Samoylova and her series Image Cities. The project, which began in Moscow and New York City in 2021, will be completed in other European cities thanks to this award.


Laurence Miller Gallery will debut a new group of Anastasia Samoylova's Image Cities photographs this coming May in New York City at the 2022 PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW presented by AIPAD.