Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sleeping by the Mississippi.

Sleeping by the Mississippi. Photographs by Alec Soth. Text by Anne Wilkes Tucker and Patricia Hampl. Steidl, Gottingen, 2004. 120 pp., 46 colour illustrations, 11½x11".

Alec Soth is a well-known American photographer and 'Sleeping by the Mississippi' was his first monograph (published by Steidl in 2004). Its "series of color prints explores one of the underlying geographic and identity assumptions that has shaped the American experience.

[Soth] does so in a manner that projects a confidence and restraint. The result is a body of work that is both compelling and conceptually relevant."

"The title, 'Sleeping by the Mississippi', alludes to the recurrence of beds, a symbol found throughout Soth's work.

As he makes his way South along the Mississippi River, Soth show us the bed used by a young Charles Lindberg, photographed at his childhood home in Little Falls, Minnesota. We see the Reverend and Margaret's bedroom, plastered with snapshots, in Vicksburg, and Sunshine, a smug grin on her face, leaning back on what appears to be a hotel bed in Memphis.

If anything at all, this is a group of images about place and their inhabitants. There is no story, per se, but rather a series of unconnected dots, placed before the viewer humbly and unapologetically.

Soth's working method is meticulous and methodical, as dictated by the 8x10" view camera he uses, and this reflects an inner methodology based in quiet, steady human relationships, abundantly evident here."

I've also previously written about Alec Soth's work in book-form here and here.

First quote from here ; second quote from here.

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