FloodZone by Anastasia Samoylova

FloodZone is an ongoing long-term photographic project reflecting and responding to the problem of rising sea levels. The project began in Miami in 2016, when I moved to the area. Through daily walks that constitute an essential part of my practice, I began to realize how the city’s seductive tropical palette and quality of light concealed the growing dissonance between its booming real-estate market and the ocean’s encroachment on its shoreline

Ocean views are prized in the real-estate world, with little regard for building projects’ locations in high-risk flood zones. Investors seem to turn a blind eye to the reality that Miami is steadily slipping underwater. Miami Beach, in particular, is a striking case study: the artificial island boasts some of the most luxurious properties, but it is subject to regular flooding. Living in Miami is bittersweet: it looks and feels like a paradise, but the only secure roots belong to mangrove trees.

FloodZone is grounded in my longstanding attention to the differences between natural versus constructed landscapes, and to the role that photographs play in constructing collective memories and imagined geographies. Focusing first on the American South and increasingly on the East Coast—with the ultimate goal of documenting over fifty communities at high risk of rising tides in Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and others – the project goes beyond the familiar types of images produced in the aftermath of hurricanes and massive flooding.

Mixing modes of representation that range from lyrical documentary photographs to images that challenge Southern clichés to metaphoric, allegorical, and constructed photographs—FloodZone aims to manifest the precarious psychological state of lives that teeter between paradise and catastrophe. Although focused for now on the U.S. East Coast and the South, FloodZone will continue to grow as more communities are threatened by rising sea levels. Communities at risk are those that most severely feel and suffer the effects of climate change; this project frames flooding and its hazards as an urgent global issue that requires universal attention and consciousness.