Victoria Sambunaris

Photo of Victoria Sambunaris.|

Victoria Sambunaris’s photographs depict epic stories of geology, commerce, and emigration, all mixed with notions of manifest destiny. Sambunaris also documents American infrastructure, with trains and highways figuring prominently in her work. She explains,

I resist approaching a landscape strictly as an expanse of scenery but view it as an anomaly with an abundance of information to be discovered. Although I am captivated by the idea of how we inhabit our landscapes as we forge ahead in our development, my intent is to transcend political, ethical, or environmental ideology and to allow viewers their own notions and meanings.


Born in 1964, Sambunaris graduated from the Yale University MFA program in 1999. Nearly every year since then, she has set out from her home in New York to cross the United States by car, alone, with her camera. In a piece for “LightBox,” Time’s photo blog, she explained her frame of mind when she’s on the road:

Once I am rolling down the road, there’s a feeling of anticipation as I wonder about what lies ahead. The seemingly enormous inner turmoil over leaving New York is purged—a sort of ritualistic cleansing as I transition to the road. The monotony of the interstate, soon enough, becomes familiar and comforting once again. Driving it requires patience—looking and waiting—similar to the act of taking a picture. I watch the world pass across my windshield with time to think, look and listen. The Mississippi River has become a kind of first milestone for me; when I cross it, my state of mind shifts and the world slows down. In the car, I listen to the radio, the truckers on the CB or maybe some Led Zeppelin—a regular on my playlist. It keeps things lively.


Her photographs capture the expansive American landscape and the human-made and natural adaptations that intersect it, including trains in Texas and Wyoming, trucks in New Jersey and Wisconsin, the oil pipeline in Alaska, salt flats and mines in Utah, and the wall along the US-Mexican border. Combined, they present a sparse and vast landscape—dotted by human intervention—that is distinctly American. 

Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well Lannan Foundation. Work shown in Lannan’s 2016 (Infra) Structure exhibition celebrates the train, a symbol of western expansion for almost two centuries and a subject Sambunaris has lovingly photographed and videotaped for more than 15 years.


A survey exhibition of Sambunaris’s work called Taxonomy of a Landscape was presented at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, in 2010 and at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, in 2013. The exhibition traveled in 2014-2015 to the Kuhn Gallery at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County; the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; and the Rubin Center at the University of Texas-El Paso.


In 2014 Radius Books published the monograph Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape. This hardback volume features select Sambunaris images from 2000 to 2013. Another volume consists of ephemera, such as maps, journals, road logs, and small photographic drawings from her research and travels.

Sambunaris’s work dealing with the Houston Ship Channel and the oil and gas industry will be featured in Lannan’s 2017 exhibition Something Fierce.

Artwork


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Border fence near Naco, AZ), 2010

Medium: Chromogenic print
Size: 39 x 55 inches

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Distant view from Cristo Rey, Sunland Park, NM), from the Border Series

Chromogenic print
16 5/8 x 23 3/8 inches

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Santa Elena Canyon), Big Bend National Park, Texas, 2010

Size: 55 x 77 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Wendover, Utah), 2007

Size: 55 x 77 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Hercules Gap, Ely, Nevada), 2004

Size: 55 x 77 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Flaming Gorge near Dutch John, Utah), 2007

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Farm with workers), Jacumba, California, 2010

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Coaldale, Pennsylvania), 2007

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Boquillas del Carmen), Big Bend National Park, Texas, 2009

Size: 39 x 55 inches each
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Boquillas del Carmen), Big Bend National Park, Texas, 2009

Size: 39 x 55 inches each
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Near Echo Canyon-East, Utah), 2007

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Gillette, Wyoming), 2007

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Crater ring with boulders, Mountain Home, Idaho), 2008

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Travertine, Yellowstone), 2008

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Distant steam vents, Yellowstone), 2008

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Potash mine-distant view, Wendover, Utah), 2004

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Petrified Forest near Holbrook, Arizona), 2004

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Drill site with tundra-distant view, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska), 2003

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Alaskan pipeline at Atigun Pass, Brooks Range, Alaska), 2003

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Kilauea Caldera-distant, Hawaii), 2005

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Alaska pipeline, Dalton Highway, Mile 298), 2003

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Uranium tailings, Mexican Hat, Utah), 2005

Size: 30 x 42 1/2 inches each
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Four trucks, moving train, New Carlisle, Indiana), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Red, green, silver train cars, Upton, Wyoming), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (White trucks docked with water, New Carlisle, Indiana), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Two trucks, train, water, New Carlisle, Indiana), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Dandelions, Monemenie, Wisconsin), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Orange Schneider, Fort Worth, Texas), 2000

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Distant orange trucks docked with cornfield, Janesville, Wisconsin), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Train and highway, Janesville, Wisconsin), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Building site and grass, Cranbury, New Jersey), 2000

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Warehouse with sand, El Paso, Texas), 2002

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Red containers, wet ground, Fort Worth, Texas), 2000

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Trucks and tags, Des Moines, Iowa), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (White containers with scum, Newton, Iowa), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Distant train with plains, Gillette, Wyoming), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Celadon truck line, Laredo, Texas), 2000

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Train on salt flats, Great Salt Lake Desert, Utah), 2002

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection


|<br /><br /><em>(click to view large)</em> Untitled (Train with tall grass, North Platte, Nebraska), 2001

Size: 39 x 55 inches
Medium: Chromogenic print

Current Lannan Art Collection



Victoria Sambunaris elsewhere on Lannan.org

OVERLAND: Photographs by Victoria Sambunaris, (Art)
Victoria Sambunaris: 15 Photographs, (Art)
DESERT SERENADE: Drones, Fences, Cacti, Test Sites, Craters and Serapes - Reception, (Events)
DESERT SERENADE: Drones, Fences, Cacti, Test Sites, Craters and Serapes, (Art)
Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape Exhibition Tour, (Art)
Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape Publication, (Art)
Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape Exhibition Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia, (Art)
Victoria Sambunaris, (Bios)
Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM 2010, (Art)
(INFRA) STRUCTURE: complex, below and further on, (Art)
Something Fierce, (Art)