Alec Soth Asks What a Pound of Pictures Weighs
A new exhibition at Sean Kelly Gallery brings together images photographer Alec Soth completed between 2018 and 2021. As is often his custom, Soth began A Pound of Pictures by taking a series of road trips, in this case on a quest to further explore a deeper connection between the ephemerality and physicality of photography as a medium. Depicting a vast array of subjects — from Buddhist statues and birdwatchers to sun-seekers and a bust of Abraham Lincoln — this series reflects on the photographic desire to pin down and crystallize experience, especially as it is represented and recollected by printed images.
Throughout this kaleidoscopic sequence of images runs the iconography of daily life: souvenirs, mementos, and images of images. Soth describes this narrative, writing, “If the pictures…are about anything other than their shimmering surfaces…they are about the process of their own making.”
Soth, who is not only a photographer, but an inveterate collector of photographs, describes the works in this exhibition as arising out of a wish to understand the “weight” of photography both philosophically and metaphorically, as in the emotional weight of images. The exhibition takes its title from a vendor Soth discovered on his travels in Los Angeles who sells photographs by the pound. Both poetic and prosaic, the images that comprise A Pound of Pictures demonstrate Soth’s and others’ longing to “memorialize life while life continues to keep flipping by.” Mining the history of his own oeuvre, from the first major series, Sleeping by the Mississippi, to more recent images, A Pound of Pictures, becomes a deeply self-reflective interrogation of Soth’s entire body of work.
View the exhibition online at Sean Kelly Gallery.