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Influx interview- alec soth-photographer

March 7, 2006

Alec Soth was the subject of a recent Influx posting and we were intrigued by his work and wanting to know more, we tracked him down for an interview.

Alec is one of the art world’s most talented young photographers. His work was included in last Whitney Biennial, he has won two McKnight Grants and the 2003 SantaFe prize.

His latest work, Niagara, has just been on show at the Gagosian in New York and from the 24th of March can be seen at the Wohnmaschine in Berlin.

Briefly describe how you got interested in photography?

When I went to college my plan was to be a painter. This was the era of Schnabel, Salle et al. It was an exciting time for painting. But I realized that I wasn’t comfortable in the studio. I was more excited about going out in the world. First I did earthworks. This eventually led to photography.

How do you find subjects and stories?

I mostly just wander. I do some research. The web is a fantastic tool for me because it mimics the same kind of wandering I do out in the world. But often the pictures don’t come from research. They just come following whatever I’m attracted to.

What’s the main narrative story that you want to tell?

I don’t believe that photography is a very good tool for narrative work.This is disappointing, but I’ve come to terms with it. If I really wanted to tell stories, I’d probably be a writer or a filmmaker.

Who are your photographic heroes?

I love amateur photographers who just pursue the medium for the pure love of it. I don’t collect photography. But the one image I’ve bought was by EJ Bellocq.

What’s next on your horizon?

For me, a new project has such purity. It exists in my mind and seems kind of perfect. I like to maintain this as long as possible and keep quiet. It will lose its perfection soon enough.

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