Alec Soth: The Space Between Us

Shanghai Center of Photography (SCoP) is honored to present American photographer Alec Soth’s first solo exhibition “The Space Between Us” in China. Alec Soth is described by Mick Brown of Britain’s Telegraph newspaper as “one of greatest living photographers of America’s social and geographical landscape”.

Since his debut series “Sleeping by the Mississippi” 2004, created an immediate stir the same year of its release at the Whitney Biennial, Soth’s works have been presented in museums and galleries around the world. Soth was invited to join Magnum Photos in 2006, and through his own imprint Little Brown Mushroom, as well as in collaboration with others, has published over 25 photo books to date.

A unique aspect of Soth’s work lies in his exploration of how to photograph people. Using photography as a medium to record an encounter, Soth pays particular attention to observing ordinary people against the background of the times, particularly the mundane nature of their social life, creating a delicate chemical reaction between himself and the subject. Soth enjoys walking into a person’s life, whether to step into their living space or shoot some detail of their environment. By using the depth of field and focal points to direct the viewers’ attention, at all times, Soth is carefully examining the space between himself and the subject.

Soth uses his process to highlight the importance of digging into life, demonstrating that by capturing intimate scenes photography can express as strong a world view as by photographing grand public events. A patient observer, he spends a lot of time with each of his subjects. The works often present a sense of poetry beyond the still image. An aura of intimacy and solitude is everywhere in Soth’s works and is a unifying feature of his visual language. The nostalgic, melancholy emotions he captures offer a powerful, warm sense of comfort in what has become a time of uncertainty. Soth’s perspective on society and ordinary people, the way he injects this into his photographs, has had a profound impact on an entire generation of young photographers today. By putting himself among the masses, as one of them, everyone can see themselves through Soth’s work.

“The Space Between Us” is not a fully retrospective exhibition, but presents a total of 44 representative works from the major series “Perfect Strangers”, “Looking for Love”, “Sleeping by the Mississippi”, “Niagara”, “Broken Manual”, “Songbook”, and his latest “I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating”. The selection allows viewers to follow his emotional and physical journeys and the creative path he has taken through different periods of his work.

To accompany his exhibition, Alec Soth’s first photobook published in China that includes 46 photographs from across his body of work and five essays. Text in Chinese and English.

About the Author

Alec Soth (born 1969) lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has published over 25 books, including his first critically acclaimed monograph Sleeping by the Mississippi, 2004. This was followed by Niagara (2006), Fashion Magazine (2007), Dog Days, Bogotá (2007), The Last Days of W (2008), Broken Manual (2010), Songbook (2015), Gathered Leaves (2015), and I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating (2019) among others. In 2008 Soth started his own publishing company, Little Brown Mushroom, which is based in Minnesota.

A portrait of Alec Soth

His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at international museums including the Deichtorhallen Internationale Kunst und Fotografie, Hamburg; the National Media Museum, Bradford, UK; The Finnish Museum, Helsinki; the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; El Museo de Bogotá, Colombia; the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; the Jeu de Paume, Paris; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

His work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, amongst others.

Alec Soth: The Space Between Us
August 1 to November 20, 2020
​Shanghai Center of Photography

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