Whether the rocky terrain of a desert or the lush foliage of the tropics, markers of place are critical to Simmons’s thinking. In her early 20s, the artist joined a Buddhist pilgrimage that retraced some of the routes of the transatlantic slave trade. That sustained meditation on land and sea as the backdrop to the tremendous trauma involved with the construction of the United States consistently surfaces in her images.

Here, the figure views a canyon in the American west through a vintage camera. When that land was first photographed in the late 1800s, it was by White men who had already enacted brutality upon it by staking territories for mining, railroads, and other industrial expansions—claims made at the violent expense of Native inhabitants. Situating the figure in the role of surveyor, Simmons asks us to consider those who have been a part of this landscape over time. By what means have some claimed it? Under what pressures have others been forced to release it?