Breakfasts with —

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At breakfast, Anastasia Samoylova often eats in the company of photo books — engaging with familiar works anew, and paying homage to their makers

We often spend breakfast scrolling — scrolling on social media, scrolling through the news, scrolling down emails. What we see disappears; we go on with our days. But, Anastasia Samoylova’s breakfasts are different. She selects a photobook from her shelves and leafs through its pages – sitting with a photograph and considering the artist who created it. To examine the image further she photographs it, along with elements of her breakfast — a scattering of berries, a segment of orange, a coffee coated in froth.

Titled Breakfasts with, the project takes on new significance during the pandemic. Breakfast can be longer — there is more time to look. “Walker Evans spoke of his ‘hungry eye’,” says Samoylova. “Breakfast is a time to feed the eye. The mind has not yet filled up with thoughts of the day – things are open and possible.”

Below, the artist breakfasts with Walker Evans, Paul Outerbridge, Barbara Kasten, Stephen Shore, Robert Frank, and Remy Markowitsch — re-photographing their images as a means of reflection and to create something new.

Breakfast with Walker Evans

From the book Walker Evans: Florida

© Anastasia Samoylova.

“I am fascinated with Walker Evans’ images of Florida — my home state. They comprise one of the lesser-known projects of his career. He came to Florida for a book assignment in 1942 and returned often. Evans once said that serious photography was not ‘anything, ever, anywhere near a beach’ but his own images contradict that.

“Orange is the official fruit of Florida, so my breakfast choice is symbolic. I love driving through orange groves on my road trips throughout the state; the smell is incredible. I made this breakfast while at home in isolation during COVID-19. I associate oranges with road trips, so it is wishful thinking.”

Breakfast with Paul Outerbridge

From the book Paul Outerbridge: Command Performance

Paul Outerbridge. From the series Breakfasts With © Anastasia Samoylova.

“This is the image that started the entire series. The original photograph depicts an advertisement still life with Vermouth and is titled Kandinsky, 1937. As a Russian, Kandinsky is close to my heart. I studied colour theory, copying his paintings while studying art in Moscow.

“I believe nothing, especially art, is made in a vacuum — there is continuity in all arts. The fact that Outerbridge, who is one of my favourite photographers, nods to Kandinsky, who is one of my favourite painters, in this commercial photo confirms that belief for me.

“The breakfast is cantaloupe and my favourite blueberries.”

Breakfast with Barbara Kasten

From the book Constructs

Barbara Kasten. From the series Breakfasts With © Anastasia Samoylova.

“Barbara Kasten is an incredible artist based in Chicago. As a photographer, she is so ahead of the curve in terms of constructed space and the still life. She really pushed the limits of space through the lens before anyone.

“I discovered her while at graduate school in Illinois, and she immediately reminded me of the Constructivists I adore, like El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenko.

“The breakfast is just mango, apricot and coffee, which were mainly chosen for their form.”

Breakfast with Stephen Shore

From the book Stephen Shore: Survey

Stephen Shore. From the series Breakfasts With © Anastasia Samoylova.

“Prior to moving to Florida my practice was mainly studio-based. Stephen Shore took this photograph of his wife Ginger in Tampa, Florida, in 1977.

“As an artist, I have always been intrigued by observational photography, but it never occurred to me to do it. This book was the first inspiration to go out and pursue a new project.

“The breakfast was just fruit, which I ate before I went for a swim in a pool like Ginger.”

Breakfast with Robert Frank

From the book The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip

Robert Frank. From the series Breakfasts With © Anastasia Samoylova.

“I relate to Robert Frank as another immigrant who came to the US and photographed his new home.

“The breakfast is banana and Nutella on toast.”

Breakfast with Remy Markowitsch

From the book On Travel

Remy Markowitsch. From the series Breakfasts With © Anastasia Samoylova.

“Layered travel photographs. An elaborate smoked salmon toast with dill.”

More of Anastasia Samoylova’s work can be viewed here.

Hannah Abel-Hirsch

Hannah Abel-Hirsch joined British Journal of Photography in 2017, where she is currently Assistant Editor. Previously, she was an Editorial Assistant at Magnum Photos, and a Studio Assistant for Susan Meiselas and Mary Ellen Mark in New York. Before which, she completed a BA in History of Art at University College London. Her words have also appeared on Magnum Photos, 1000 Words, and in the Royal Academy of Arts magazine.