From Here to There: Alec Soth's America

The strange beauty Alec Soth finds and photographs is both compelling and repellant, inspiring thoughts about what "the sublime" means anymore in 21st-century America. Naked couples cuddle, the man displaying his full-frontal glory, yet it's the stretch marks, cellulite, and slack muscles that command our attention. Niagara Falls glistens and shimmers with hyper-reality. Cars and motels somehow inspire retro envy despite their decrepitude. Grey and wizened fashionistas in rococo splendor are juxtaposed with cheerleaders, geeks, and goths. Suffused with a dispassionate fascination with banality, and an odd sort of sensitivity that allows his listless subjects to declare, "Yeah, we're still here," Soth's pictures remind us of the grit, poverty, struggle, and feeling of which human society is mostly made. There's little veneer here, and plenty of discomfort. But just try to turn away when the Walker Art Center opens the first major U.S. survey of Soth's work, "From Here to There: Alec Soth's America." The opening-day talk features Soth with George Slade for $10 at 2 p.m. Sunday, September 12; a gallery talk with Paul Shambroom will be at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 7. (image of man sleeping, 2008, courtesy the artist)
Sept. 12-Jan. 2, 2010

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