To see the American landscape through the lens of Victoria Sambunaris’ 5×7-inch field camera is to see beauty and majesty—the stuff of patriotic hymns—held in contrapposto with the destructive acts that fuel the nation’s so-called progress: extraction, expansion, exclusion. Mining pits. Railroad tracks. Border fences. Her photographs ask a viewer to meditate on the impact of development on vast parts of the country that largely go unseen. And, in making them visible she shows us what is at stake and what has already been lost.
Sambunaris has an intimate relationship with these panoramas. Every year since 1999, the year she graduated from Yale with an MFA, she’s embarked on a months-long journey to document transformation across the country. Currently, she’s driving through California and Nevada, seeking out sites critical to water resources in the West—places, that in these drought-prone states are long victim to what she describes as “hucksterism and speculation.”