Saturday, April 3, 2010

NEWSFLASH: Soth Crisis Deepens...

Mounting evidence emerging this week that Alec Soth has gone further into the ever-perilous spiral of the 'mid-career crisis' with his first post for The New York Times: 'Ash Wednesday, New Orleans'.

The first signs of danger came with the now infamous 'Las Vegas Birthday Slideshow' where Soth lived out his 40th birthday trip in digital, joining the ranks of hipster youth, taking self-reflexive images laden with irony.

Only Soth is not having sex with teenage girls or taking hard drugs.

Viewers and pundits at the time wondered: 'What kind of snapshot photography is this??'

The low point of the Vegas debacle came in a moment of sheer madness with Soth photographing his own legs, glued to his hotel room bed, the TV on in the background and his droll voice recounting how: "the last time I watched 'The Graduate' I was the same age as Dustin I'm the same age as Mrs. Robinson."

Las Vegas Birthday Slideshow, Copyright Alex Soth

Critics and commentators alike assumed that this was a one-off incident and that Soth would either make a Tiger Woods-like apology for his behavior and return to his 'A' game with new work that would be...well... more or less exactly the same as the old work.

Prominent art photography lovers were questioned on the crisis, saying how they: "just wished for more of his large-scale images laden with wistful visual poetry, gentle melancholy and pillow-soft color palette."

But to their horror, like some sick April Fool's Day joke, Soth confirmed his mid-career rebellion is in full swing with his 'Ash Wednesday' piece. Some in the industry are calling it a 'video'.

Scarily for many, in the piece, Soth again decides it's easier to stay in his hotel room photographing his own aging body than go outside into the real world.

'Ash Wednesday, New Orleans' Copyright Alec Soth for The New York Times

Soth first emerged onto the world stage with his now famous monograph 'Sleeping by the Missippi' in 2004. Using almost the largest camera available to man, he seemed to carry, Atlas-like, the documentary photo world on his shoulders, with luminaries such as Joel Sternfeld confirming that: "Alec Soth has done something that has changed the course of the medium that will be followed."

And follow they did.

As Soth's crisis appears to deepen and he continues to create stories digitally, many so called 'copycat photographers' are wondering why they have re-mortgaged their homes to 'shoot like Soth.'

One such image maker complained: "I thought if my prints were really really big, they would be really really know, like Alec Soth's."

Soth photographing large format circa 2002

Soth's management have remained silent on the issue so far with no official statement
answering the question of whether or not the artist will 'return to the fold' or not but editors and curators alike have already begun to fear the worst.

Las Vegas Birthday Slideshow from Little Brown Mushroom on Vimeo.


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