— art file

Alec Soth


Photographer Alec Soth has made himself famous for his mundane images of American life. Whether shooting in black and white or color Soth is able to connect with people across the economic and racial spectrum. This is made evident in his series called Dog Days, Bogotá which presents a unique perspective on the lives of people and animals alike in Colombia’s capital city. His images range in subject matter from the New York fashion scene to Baptist revivals in Mississippi and everything in between. Soth used the series Last Days of W to express citizens’ exhaustion with the political drama of President George W. Bush. This series, as well as Sleeping by the Mississippi and Niagara, were published in book format. In 2010 Soth started a publishing company called Little Brown Mushroom to further explore his interest in producing books. Soth’s career took off after his feature in the 2004 Whitney Biennial and is continuing to flourish with grants and exhibitions around the nation.


Although Soth seems to be just another photographer presenting images of bizarre and banal American life there is something about his work that sets him apart from the crowd. He is able to capture all aspects of a theme or region, a wide range of human emotions and attitudes, and make each image in the series work together. After viewing Niagara the audience is left with another perspective of the grand waterfall. The city of Niagara is seedy, outdated, and rather lackluster. The tension between contrasting images of old motels and the monumental waterfall is a highly unique interpretation of Niagara Falls. The struggle of broken people in a tourism capital is an overwhelming headline in this series. Niagara and his other series all focus on the same idea: the strange. Whether it be a house or a person all of Soth’s images succeed in presenting the viewer with something hauntingly different than the norm. The deviation from the norm might be minute, but it forces his audience to take a second look at his work. This double-take phenomena is present in many of his series. Furthermore, as a collection, each series is diverse in its content, but there is an emotional connection and narrative that links these series as a cohesive body of work about the back roads and unseen of the Americas. Overall, Alec Soth has made a name for himself by breaking away from the pack and presenting his viewers with contemplative content that engages viewers.

Submit comment