Menu Close

Lyle Rexer interviews Alec Soth in Photograph Magazine

How does a country or a community discover itself, except through its artists, those peculiar people who are somehow able to enter the minds and hearts of others and provide indubitable testimony to their reality. Alec Soth has displayed a quality of sympathy through his photographs for more than two decades.

©Alec Soth, Vince, New York City, 2018. Courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery
©Alec Soth, Vince, New York City, 2018. Courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery

By Lyle Rexer

His recent intuitions, at once modest and profound, are on view in a new book published by Mack, I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating, and in several exhibitions: at Weinstein Hammons Gallery, Minneapolis (March 15-May 4), Sean Kelly Gallery, New York (March 21-April 29), and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco (March 23-May 11). Soth has also curated an exhibition, A Room for Solace: An Exhibition of Domestic Interiors, for the AIPAD Photography Show, April 4-7.

Lyle Rexer: I feel I should start this interview by making a point about your interviews. As a writer interested in background, I appreciate the fact that you’ve done so many.

Alec Soth: I’ve come to see it as part of the job, really. Like writing grant proposals. It’s also a way of reaching a larger audience. On the other hand, I learn what my work is about by talking about it, the way you probably understand what you think by writing. For me, it is thinking out loud. This is especially true of my latest work. How do I talk about it? I find myself fumbling for a convenient description.

LR: Well, how do you talk about it? What is it?

AS: It’s certainly not high concept. It’s largely portraits, with some interiors. For this body of work, I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating, I wanted to get back to just making pictures, just being a photographer. I hope that comes through in the exhibitions and in the MACK book. I have tried to shape the project more by impulse than calculation.

LR: As if you weren’t always, first and foremost, a photographer?

AS: My problem is I take myself too seriously. For example, I love ping-pong. It’s relaxing, I love to play, and I’m not out to be the best in the world. But at some point I got a coach, and I became more involved, and that began to ruin it for me. I already have that thing I stake my identity on. At the same time, I felt I needed to loosen my grip on photography; to be present to the photographs and not pursue some larger construct as I often had in the past.

LR: That’s interesting. Your previous series, Songbook, also seemed like a break – shooting in black and white with just a flash and a zoom, traveling randomly, gathering these pictures that seem goofy, sad, mysterious, all over the map.

AS: My friend Brad Zellar and I both worked for small newspapers, and we had this idea: what if we went back to doing what we first started out doing, small stories in places that interested us. Just traveling to do that and do it quickly. Shoot black and white to avoid the problem of the icky yellow shirt. Digital made sense. It was refreshing to get away from large-format film and the slow work it requires. Photography has always been linked to its technology, and the choice of camera in an important sense determines the work.

Read the full interview HERE >>> Source: Photograph Magazine March/April 2019: Interview