The North Carolina Museum of Art

Wanderlust: Photographs by Alec Soth

Alec Soth, Bonnie (with a photograph of an angel), Port Gibson, Mississippi, 2000, chromogenic print, 16 x 20 in., Collection of Allen G. Thomas Jr., © 2000 Alec Soth

Julian T. Baker Jr. Gallery
December 23, 2012–June 30, 2013

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, photographer Alec Soth (b. 1969) specializes in large-format color photographs that tell the stories of specific places. Drawn from the collection of Allen G. Thomas Jr., this exhibition features 15 photographs by Soth from two recent series, Sleeping by the Mississippi (1999–2002) and NIAGARA (2004–2005).

For four years Soth traveled the length of the Mississippi River, from Minnesota to Louisiana, to create Sleeping by the Mississippi, a compelling body of work that features a place, the people who live there, and the passage of time. While he rarely focuses on the river itself, Soth links the vastness of the Mississippi with recurring imagery: isolated people, empty rooms, and spare landscapes. The images, especially when contemplated as a unified series, evoke loneliness and isolation as well as possibility and intimacy—sometimes all in one frame.

The NIAGARA series includes portraits of newlyweds and the honeymoon hotels found in and around Niagara Falls, as well as images of life after the honeymoon. Like Sleeping by the Mississippi, this series alternates among portraits of individuals, vernacular architecture, and desolate landscapes, evoking themes of loneliness, love, and the disintegration of romance. Soth chose Niagara Falls, he has said, because “Niagara is a kind of metaphor for the passion (the falls) and the aftermath of passion (the surrounding region).”

Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions.