EXHIBITION Alec Soth „Gathered Leaves“ at FOMU in Antwerp

© Alec Soth, Bill, Sandusky, Ohio, from the series Songbook, 2014

Alec Soth – Gathered Leaves

This exhibition brings together four pivotal works by Alec Soth (US, °1969): Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and Songbook (2014). Soth is a fine artist, a Magnum photojournalist, a blogger, a self-publisher, an Instagrammer and an educator. He explores the many different forms photography takes in the world and creates diverse encounters with his audiences, from museum shows to live workshops conducted from his Winnebago motorhome. This exhibition reflects the evolution of Soth’s individual series as they move from the page of the maquette or book to the wall of the gallery.

Soth regards himself first and foremost as an American photographer in the tradition of lyrical documentary photographers like Robert Frank, Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld. His country’s physical landscapes – the majestic Mississippi, the thundering Niagara Falls, the wide open deserts and wildernesses, the small towns and suburbs – provide the structure and setting for his poetic surveys of American life.

The exhibition title, Gathered Leaves, refers to photography simply as sheets of paper brought together. It is also a line taken from that quintessentially American epic, Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself (1855). Whitman’s poem catalogued the diversity of the nation on the eve of the Civil War. Alec Soth’s America of the early 21st century is also described in a time of tension, as the nation wrestles its conflicting desires for individualism and community.

© Alec Soth, Two Towels, frome the series Niagara, 2005

Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,
Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee,
In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night,
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill’d game,
Falling asleep on the gather’d leaves with my dog and gun by my side.

Excerpt from Song of Myself, a 1855 poem by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

© Alec Soth, Charles, Vasa, Minnesota, from the series Sleeping By The Mississippi, 2002

Alec Soth – Gathered Leaves
FOMU, Antwerp
February 17, 2017 – June, 04, 2017