Anastasia Samoylova’s “Image Cities” at the Sabrina Amrani Gallery in Madrid is a captivating exploration of the world’s major urban centres and their interconnectedness in terms of cultural and economic influence. Through her lens, Samoylova focuses on the public-facing images that saturate these cities, offering a critical and lyrical study of their impact on urban dwellers. Rather than showcasing the uniqueness of each location, the artist reveals a disquieting homogeneity stemming from the ever-increasing corporatization of our planet.
The series encompasses 17 cities, including New York, Paris, London, Zurich, Tokyo, and Milan, among others. Samoylova’s photographs shed light on the pervasive influence of commodity culture, which manifests in ubiquitous advertisements, billboards flaunting luxury goods, and construction banners promising transformations into opulent paradises. The city becomes a space of alluring promises, guiding our desires and aspirations through the seductive aesthetics created by contemporary image-makers.
The artist emphasises the impact of our environment on our identities and underscores the changing nature of our cities. As local heritage gives way to a globalized culture, the essence of being a New Yorker or a Parisian is called into question. Samoylova urges us to recognize the power of visual communication and the sway it holds over us. The encroachment of commodity culture on our lives is brutal to resist, but the artist suggests that creating new images might be a way to counteract the persuasive rhetoric that surrounds us.
Samoylova’s aesthetic approach adds depth to her exploration of these themes. Employing collage-like techniques and a telephoto lens, she blurs the boundaries between figure and environment, merging them in a symbolic visual play. This technique reflects the symbiotic relationship between products and consumers, further blurring the line between individual and cultural constructs.
Ultimately, “Image Cities” portrays the rapid advancement of optimism driven by the corporatized world. It compels us to question the motives behind the push for change and encourages us to consider whether we can resist the influences of commodity culture. Samoylova’s work serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing battle between local and global forces and challenges us to explore alternative narratives in the face of the alluring promises thrust upon us.
About Anastasia Samoylova
Anastasia Samoylova is a contemporary photographer born in Moscow, Russia. She is known for her captivating and thought-provoking photographic works that explore the relationship between humans and their environment. Samoylova’s photographs often depict landscapes and urban scenes, blending elements of documentary and fine art photography. Her images have a distinct aesthetic, characterized by vibrant colours, bold compositions, and a keen eye for detail. Samoylova’s work has been exhibited internationally, including at prestigious institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Aperture Foundation in New York. She continues to create compelling visual narratives through her lens, pushing the boundaries of photographic expression.
Location: Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid, Spain
Duration: 7 June – 22 July 2023