Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape

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9781934435632: Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape
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For more than a decade, Victoria Sambunaris (born 1964) has crossed the United States with her five-by-seven wooden field camera and sheets of color negative film. Traveling seemingly every road nationwide, Sambunaris has described herself as having “an unrelenting curiosity to understand the American landscape and our place in it.” This first monograph on Sambunaris’ work consists of two handsome hardback volumes. The first includes a retrospective selection of her images from 2000 to 2013; the second documents the artist’s collected professional ephemera as a photographer and researcher. Included in this fascinating assortment of documents are images of books on geology and history, maps, artifacts such as mineral specimens, journals and road logs, as well as her small photographic sketches. An essay from MOCP Director Natasha Egan provides an insightful overview of this ardent chronicler of contemporary America.

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Review:

Book of the Year (Andy Adams Flak Photo)

Sambunaris researches as much as she can before departure, but reserves plenty of space for happenstance and happy accident in her process. It is unlikely she’ll return to most locations (there’s a whole lot of America out there), so she takes her time. Sambunaris often remains in a single location, waiting days if necessary for the right light. At this pace, she realizes it’s a journey best taken alone. (Peter Brook Wired)

Best Photobook of 2014 (The Editors Hafny)

The travel photographs of Victoria Sambunaris are like no others. They are landscapes that record the terrain and the hand that man has played in altering these landscapes. Sambunaris engages in a solitary journey to record these places, also collecting encounters with the inhabitants and artifacts from her trips, whether mineral specimens, travel books, or maps. (Jackie M THE Magazine)

The pictures in Ms. Sambunaris's 'Taxonomy of a Landscape' (Radius, 126 pages, $60) explore such accidental collaborations between industry and the elements, the ways that man's and nature's delight in pattern blends. (The Editors The Wall Street Journal)

Sambunaris captures all her images with a large-format camera, a piece of equipment that requires not just a tripod, but an elaborate and careful process for each shot. Most of Sambunaris’s time is spent scouting with a smaller camera and searching for the perfect light. Once all the conditions are right, which may take days of waiting, Sambunaris travels with her cumbersome equipment and usually only shoots two sheets of film per locale. “Photography is a solitary act and forces you to look hard and observe. It requires patience and is almost meditative, especially shooting with a large format camera where there is time involved setting up and waiting,” she writes in an e-mail. “Photography is my vehicle for understanding the world and our place in it.” (Erin Corneliussen Smithsonian)

One of six best coffee table books to own. (Devon Ivie Interview)

Landscape photographer Victoria Sambunaris has logged tens of thousands of miles and gone through five cars in her travels across the American landscape. A collection of these photographs is being published this spring by Radius Books in a new book called Taxonomy of a Landscape. The photographs in the book illustrate how natural and man-made forces shape the land and how these forces coexist. For example: we see freight trains dwarfed by vast swaths of Texas desert, an oil pipeline dwarfed by the Alaskan wilderness. There are images of massive open-pit mineral mines as well as vistas of breathtaking rock formations and geysers in Yellowstone National Park. In one image, the U.S. Mexico border is rendered as a thin black line cutting through otherwise uninterrupted desert. In another, a beautiful lake turns out to be a massive deposit of uranium waste. (Thomas BreakThruRadio’s “Art Uncovered.”)

The American landscape photographer Victoria Sambunaris has completed her first monograph, Taxonomy of a Landscape. Sambunaris studied at Yale and still teaches there, although her main passion is the regular road trips she takes into the American interior. The monograph brings together many of the images she took in South Texas - a rich natural landscape that is also shifting fast due to the demands of the energy industry - covering over a decade's worth of shooting...The book is designed by David Chickey, one of the co-founders of Radius Books. As well as the photographs, it also incorporates elements of the ephemera installation from Sambunaris's show at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. 'The inspiration came from geology books that contain a pocket in the back to hold maps and drawings,' she explains, 'the back pocket of the book includes a booklet of the ephemera, a pull out grid of photographs and a little gem - a brilliant short story called The Mappist by Barry Lopez.' (Jonathan Bell Wallpaper*)

Best of Spring/Summer Photobooks. (TIME Lightbox)

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