Sam Contis Studies Male Seclusion
Document Journal


Sam Contis first learned of Deep Springs College, an isolated two-year men's school in the California desert, while pursuing her MFA on the opposite side of the country at Yale University. The college was founded exactly one hundred years ago by business tycoon L.L. Nunn, who believed that a place with a combination of labor, education, and self-governance could train the country's next leaders (all male, of course). For Contis, it also seemed like the perfect place to explore the complex nature of masculinity, identity, and community at a pivotal time for so many young men. She first visited the college in 2012, and over the course of four years, photographed its students and landscape extensively. The results were published as the book "Deep Springs," which was released earlier this summer through Mack Books, and are currently on view in a solo exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Document’s Drew Sawyer and the artist caught up over lunch at Chipperfield Kantine in Berlin, and chatted about Deep Springs, male intimacy, and the mythology of the American West.