Unoccupied Spaces

Samantha VanDeman

The Chicago-based photographer Samantha VanDeman (b. 1982) finds beauty and life in the decaying and forgotten. Regularly seeking out abandoned spaces with her camera, the artist finds traces of past inhabitants in the remaining furniture, photographs, letters and possessions. VanDeman’s images are silent and unobtrusive, capturing the scenery without disturbance and just as it appears. In her No Vacancy  series (2010-2013), the various buildings are shadows of hotels, swimming pools, cafés and houses in different stages of collapse. Undisturbed by human life, the rooms and the objects are eerily peaceful, exuding a stillness that does not come from an active decision but is merely a consequence of the absence of residents. The transformative force of nature is evidenced in the peeling wallpaper, leaking pipes and creeping vines, as the environment reclaims the locations. The following images are taken from the collections No Vacancy  and Died Alone  (2013).