Sam Youkilis Photographs The Strangeness Of Travel


New York photographer Sam Youkilis traveled through South America, from Bogota to Buenos Aires by bus. His intriguing photographs from that three-month trip play with scale and perspective to test viewer perceptions.

Youkilis first shared his series of travel images through one of The New Yorker’s official Instagram accounts, a platform where their photography department invites a guest contributor to host the feed for a week. Youkilis posted photographs taken in a variety of different landscapes, such as the pink Laguna Colorada in Bolivia, the Humahuaca limestone mountains of Argentina, and the sand dunes at the Ica desert in Peru. Yet, what binds Youkilis’ photographs together is the blurring of reality. Youkilis strips both subject and scenery of context—whether captured on a beach or at an indoor bath house, we cannot discern the location.

Through these seemingly disparate images, Youkilis creates a new narrative experience of travel. “My photos are excerpts from the world and reduce the subject and landscape to formal elements of geometry and color,” the photographer commented in a recent interview with It’s Nice That. Youkilis explained how he builds his narrative around human attitudes to travel: “I’m interested in how people devise travel plans around visiting famous sites, the photographs they take as evidence of their visit and the strangeness of how they move within them,” he continued. “The people in the photographs reflect this while reaffirming the realness of these strange and abstracted places, while also indicating scale.”

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