Gathered Leaves-Alec Soth

Gathered Leaves by Alec Soth-Media Space Nov 19th/2015.

I visited the Exhibition of the American photographer Alec Soth.

In Gathered Leaves, Alec brings together 4 of his major works: Sleeping by the Mississippi, Niagara, Broken Manual & Songbook.

The work I most liked was Sleeping by the Mississippi (2002) A journey through America, following the Mississippi river, a 2000 mile journey south toward the Gulf of Mexico.  Soth photographed  boyhood homes of Johnny Cash and Charles Lindberg (their starting points) and a theme of beds and mattresses sometimes in a motel room, sometimes floating in a river.  These themes of moving along and escape whilst sleeping  entwine with the idea of the meandering  river following its own course of escape. Wandering through the landscape, not knowing  what is around the next bend like our own lives.

The colours and clarity of the images are intense. My favourite image is Peters Houseboat. The striking colours contrasting against the clean background is beautiful. If you listen you can hear the inhabitant stating this ramshackle abode is all I need to survive in this bleak environment. The clothes are pegged up, almost in defiance on the line like a flag marking his territory.

I really liked Venice, Louisiana the bed is a reminder of comfort, where we go at the end of each day knowing that one day we won’t return. All that is left is the bed and the sense of the foliage still growing reminding us that when we die, the world carries on.

As with Helena, Arkansas  a mattress is our retreat and here it is cast out, left to fend for itself against the harsh environment. Cruel and abandoned. This is a sad image. I wonder if Soth was missing his home and family when he took it.

From Niagara I was attracted to Cadillac Motel  I really like the colours, clean lines and the detail in the snow as you move closer to the image.

Misty, as with the previous photographs, it’s the ‘pop’ of colour. I don’t know if Misty is her real name but her expression is also misty. She is aware of the camera but her mind is elsewhere.


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