Press Release: Alec Soth: Portraits

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program

For Immediate Release: January 13, 2005

Alec Soth: Portraits

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts March 4–May 8, 2005

…[his work] shows a poise and authority that is nothing short of remarkable.

        — Art in America

Minneapolis—The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) present new and recent work by critically acclaimed Minneapolis photographer Alec Soth. Opening March 4, “Alec Soth: Portraits” features approximately twenty large-format, chromogenic color portraits drawn from all walks of Soth’s artistic life—from Magnum editorial assignments and private commission work to personal projects including the photo collections “Sleeping by the Mississippi” and “From Here to There.” Selected to exhibit in both the 2004 Whitney and Sao Paolo Biennials, Soth has focused his work on capturing the images of everyday strangers he has encountered during travels in the United States, Iceland, Germany, Canada, Brazil, China, and Great Britain.

Soth’s extraordinary photographs testify to his remarkable gifts as an artist. Born in 1969, Soth makes personal documentary photography the core of his artistic inquiry, but he is not limited to or defined by any particular subject. He moves easily across conventional lines, making powerful pictures of people, animals, domestic interiors, cityscapes, and landscapes. Soth’s 8 x 10 inch view camera plays a major role in shaping the relationship between the photographer and his subjects: the large-format camera slows down process. After setting up the shot, Soth may be under the camera cloth for a good twenty minutes before taking a single picture. As Soth lingers over the image in the lens, his subjects relax and let go of any initial need to perform.

Peter, Winona,(2002) is one of three portraits from the “Sleeping” series on exhibition for the first time. Peter is an artist who has lived on a houseboat on the Mississippi River for twenty-five years. “While working on ‘Sleeping by the Mississippi,’ I often asked people to describe a dream on a sheet of paper,” Soth said. “While most of the people I photographed wrote down their dreams on a white sheet of paper, Peter found a big poster for his. And like a good photograph, his dream is both incredibly concrete and simultaneously poetic.”

Soth’s freelance work includes assignments for The New York Times Magazine, LIFE, and Fortune. His independent projects are exhibited nationally and internationally, with recent exhibitions at Pace MacGill in New York, Wohnmaschine in Berlin, Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Santiago de Chile.

Related Events for “Alec Soth: Portraits”

Artist-led tour, Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m., free and open to the public.

Trialogue public discussion with the artist and critics Glenn Gordon and Michael Fallon, Sunday, April 17, at 3 p.m., free and open to the public.

This exhibition is made possible by generous support from Jerome Foundation.