The exhibition, curated by Walter Guadagnini and Francesco Zanot, features one of the protagonists of contemporary photographic research, the US-born Alec Soth (Minneapolis, 1969). The display is made up of some 40 works, allowing us to examine the two series that first brought fame to the photographer and which have never before been shown in Italy: Sleeping by The Mississippi (2004) and Niagara (2006), along with a range of archive materials which help to understand the birth and development of these two projects and the two books spawned by them.
The exhibition continues the cycle that the Milan Triennial has dedicated to contemporary photography, which opened with the highly successful Roger Ballen 1982-2009 show. The images on display here tell the story of two characteristic places, in many ways emblematic of the United States: the settlements and nature to be found along the course of the Mississippi River, and Niagara Falls. The images are presented without rhetoric, and with an extraordinary ability to penetrate the most authentic nature of those territories and their inhabitants or visitors. The project is based on tiny, marginal stories, giving life to images that not only capture the personal experience of the photographer, but also develop a long American photographic tradition handed down from Walker Evans to William Eggleston. Portraits and landscapes make up a narrative of images which is emotionally involved yet at the same time clear-mindedly critical, rendered with the artist’s absolutely impeccable technique.
The exhibition, held in collaboration with the photographer himself, presents Alec Soth’s own personal vision of two markedly American realities, but also of two different places: a great river and the most famous waterfall in the world, which both serve to underline a sense of passing. Both series are characterized by this notion of flow and of landscape, which develops also within Alec Soth’s entire artistic production. In fact, the artist himself says that, “Despite the fact that photographs are inherently still, the reason I make photographs is to move. My process is all about moving through the world I’m not so much looking for balance as I’m looking to go with the flow.”
The exhibition was made possible thanks to the collaboration with the French museum Jeu de Paume, with the Magnum Photography Agency, of which Soth is a member, and with Contrasto, his exclusive representative in Italy.