Friday, October 12, 2007

The Space In Between

Alec Soth spoke at the High Museum last night.

New Orleans, Louisiana 2002

He said that even though he works with an over arching theme in each project, such as photographing along the Mississippi River in the Sleeping by the Mississippi project, the photographs are really about his own "wandering."

Bonnie (with a photograph of an angel), Port Gibson, Mississippi 2000

Soth had a lot of say about photographing people. He finds it incredibly difficult to approach strangers and convince them to allow him to take a portrait. He actually hates the experience but feels completely "energized" by it and wrestles with the issue of "using" the people that he photographs by portraying them in a certain way.
The model often has to wait more than ten minutes as Soth is setting up and adjusting his large format camera. He said the photograph is as much about the space between two people (himself and the subject) as it is about the subject, themselves.

Impala 2005
Soth also said he does not see photography as "storytelling" but instead it "suggest things" more like "poetry."

I can't go on like this 2005

It was an interesting talk. Soth showed an incredibly large body of work - going all the way back to an example of a high school painting to show the complete evolution of his work. Next on his plate is a commission with the High Museum in which he is a doing a series on the south, but couldn't bring himself to show any of the work yet. He approaches a subject, like the south, cautiously, with no preconceived idea of what will catch his attention and eventually grow into the themes running through and linking the work.

I was curious to hear how his very great and popular blog evolved and how that coexists in his life as an international art star but it never came up.

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