A Pastel-Coloured Illusion
For many people, Miami is a magical place. Located on the East Coast with beautiful beaches and boulevards lined with palm trees, the city in the US state of Florida attracts over twenty million tourists every year. It is also an extremely lucrative location for real estate investment. The development boom that has been going on for years has caused housing prices, especially on the waterfront, to soar to absurd heights. And yet the forecast for Miami looks bleak: The city struggles to cope with record-breaking temperatures, storms, and floods. While many politicians deny the severity of the impact that climate change has on the region, scientists warn that Miami could become virtually uninhabitable after 2060.
When photographer Anastasia Samoylova, who grew up in Russia, moved to Florida in 2016, she soon realised that Miami’s glamorous façade was crumbling in many places. A year later, Hurricane Irma ravaged the area, forcing many people into temporary homelessness. Suddenly, the climate crisis, that had seemed abstract until then, became part of their reality. Samoylova began documenting the effects of global warming on this outward paradise, extending her radius to the entirety of Florida and three adjacent southern states over four years. But the images in her photo book “FloodZone” are not disaster reportage; rather, they seduce us, at least at first glance, with candy-like colour palettes that make us believe we are looking at the usual stereotypic image of Miami. On closer inspection, we detect unsettling details, such as green mould and water stains on a pink house. Palm trees, uprooted by a storm, lie on the streets; and what appears to be luxury villas turn out to be advertisements and scaffolding. Everything that seems beautiful on the surface turns out to be a façade. The damage inflicted on the environment reveals the growing discrepancy between the investors’ billboards and the precarious reality of life in Florida.
Samoylova’s photographs are not condemning but rather play with the typical paradisiacal imagery associated with coastal resorts. Subtly, she draws attention to the fact that this excessively luxurious lifestyle comes at far too high a price.
born in Moscow, Russia
Masters degree from the Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia
Masters degree from the Bradley University, USA
Finalist for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2022
lives in Miami and New York City, USA