(American; b. Minneapolis, 1969)
Gift of the artist
© Alec Soth
Minnesota-based photographer Alec Soth first gained critical acclaim with his book Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), a compilation of photographs he made while traveling the length of the river from Minneapolis to New Orleans. For his second project, Soth’s sole destination was Niagara Falls. For two years he explored the area as a metaphor for love and relationships through portraiture, still life, and landscape. The project was partly inspired by the 1953 film Niagara, which stars Marilyn Monroe and features the iconic honeymoon destination as the setting for a fatal love triangle.
Using a large-format camera, Soth prepares and sets up his photographs over time. This extended working process is an important element in the making of his images. Though scenes might be staged, Soth encourages his subjects to relax into their poses, engage with the camera, or become lost in thought. The resulting images have a cinematic feel and hint at an underlying narrative. Existing somewhere between documentary and fiction, this large-scale portrait of a young mother and her baby calls into question the romantic tenor of Niagara Falls. The image reveals the generic reality of Niagara beyond its setting as a natural wonder.