Alec Soth's Archived Blog

July 31, 2007

Kohei Yoshiyuki (and nine other reasons I love Yossi)

Filed under: artists — alecsothblog @ 11:52 pm

from the series The Park, 1973, by Kohei Yoshiyuki

I’ve made a point of not writing about the art business on this blog. But I have to make an exception for Yossi Milo. Here are just ten of the reasons I love Yossi:

  1. Because he shows one of my favorite established photographers: Nicolas Nixon.
  2. Because he shows one of my favorite young photographers: Allesandra Sanguinetti
  3. Because he doesn’t care about labels. For all of his success with Loretta Lux and Simen Johan, he still shows documentary work.
  4. Because on October 25 he’ll be debuting Taj Forer’s sweet and understated photographs.
  5. Because he included one of my pictures in his June Bride exhibition
  6. Because he’s always good to the Minneagraphers (Katherine Turczan, David Goldes)
  7. Because he shows my friends Lise Sarfati and Eirik Johnson.
  8. Because he is just so sweet.
  9. Did I mention he shows Nicolas Nixon?
  10. Because he keeps unearthing great stuff. The latest is the work of Kohei Yoshiyuki. Taken with infrared film and flash in various Tokyo parks, these pictures show people gathering for furtive sexual encounters, both heterosexual and homosexual. More strange than the sex are the spectators:

from the series The Park, 1973, by Kohei Yoshiyuki

Along with exhibiting Yoshiyuki’s work (September 6 – October 20), Yossi will be publishing his book, The Park, this fall. The original version of the book, Document Park, was published in 1980 with an introduction by Nobuyoshi Araki:

In The Photobook, A History, Vol. II, Parr and Badger write that Document Park “is a brilliant piece of social documentation, catching perfectly the loneliness, sadness and desperation that so often accompany sexual or human relationships in a big, hard metropolis like Tokyo.”

July 30, 2007


Filed under: circles n\' bunnies — alecsothblog @ 8:59 pm

After last night’s dream about bunnies, I’ve decided it is time to dam up the stream of consciousness for a little while. So I’m going to keep things simple and just highlight stuff:

1) John Gitelson has recently launched the maniacal Garbage Can Project. (Be sure to watch the rat on 11/29/06).

2) On Jon’s blog, he recently wrote about a nice project called You Are Beautiful.

3) I’m a sucker for feel-good art. Another great project, Learning to Love You More, is run by Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher. They describe the project as follows:

Participants accept an assignment, complete it by following the simple but specific instructions, send in the required report (photograph, text, video, etc), and see their work posted on-line. Like a recipe, meditation practice, or familiar song, the prescriptive nature of these assignments is intended to guide people towards their own experience.

Their first assignment was ‘Make A Child’s Outfit In An Adult Size.’ Here is one of the responses:

Brad Hall, Richmond, Virginia USA

If you want to do a fun assignment, take a crack at the New York Post “tryouts”: (1) Photograph someone through the window of a car. (2) Photograph someone leaving a building (as if on a perp walk). (3) Photograph a piece of artwork (as if capturing a family photo or other document out in the field). Read the full article here.

4) If you like grown ups dressing up like kids/animals, check out Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott’s recent spread in W Magazine, INTO THE WOODS:

Photo: Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

Furries in fashion has been done before. See for yourself here

5) Aperture has a special sale on Elena Dorfman’s new book, Fandomania: Characters & Cosplay. In an interview with Aperture, Dorfman says:

The idea of fandom – of what people attach themselves to – has always been interesting to me. A friend of mine told me about this community; I found a convention happening in San Francisco and went to see what it was all about. It was the wildest, most frenetic hotel ballroom I’d ever seen, full of people buying games and paraphanalia, most of them dressed up as the characters from the games or the comic books. Kids were sitting with their mothers at booths with homemade costumes; there were kids dressed in provocative and outrageous ways; kids who were so androgynous I had no idea as to what sex they were – as well as lots of kids who were just very innocently wandering around andd having a great time. It seemed like a very open environment for exploration, whether through role-playing or acting out some kind of fantasy, creating scenes though the characters they represent.

Name: Chloe, Character: Chi, From: Chobits. Photo by Elena Dorfman

See a short video of Dorfman’s work here and read an interview with her here. In an interesting twist, Dorfan had a virtual opening of her show. Read about it here. Meanwhile, James Deavin shows his virtual landscapes in real galleries.

6) Dorfman’s project is reminiscent of Robbie Cooper’s book, Alter Ego, in which he compares portraits of individuals with their avatars:

NAME Ailin Graef BORN 1978 OCCUPATION Metaverse entrepreneur LOCATION Frankfurt AVATAR NAME Anshe Chung AVATAR CREATED 2004 GAME PLAYED Second Life HOURS PER WEEK IN-GAME 30. Photo by Robbie Cooper

See more examples of Cooper’s project here and here.

Ingmar Bergman 1918-2007

Filed under: psa — alecsothblog @ 10:07 am

Still from Wild Strawberries

More info here

Magnum Masterclass

Filed under: Magnum,psa — alecsothblog @ 12:54 am

Not long ago I wrote about my fantastic experience with the first Magnum Portfolio Review. I wish I had the opportunity to be part of the first Magnum Masterclass.

Here are the details (or you can download the .doc file here):

July 27, 2007

Friday Poem

Filed under: poetry — alecsothblog @ 3:05 am

A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts

by Wallace Stevens

The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten in the moon;

And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light,
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full

And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,

You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,

You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.

July 26, 2007


Filed under: psa — alecsothblog @ 1:44 pm

Go here

Am I crazy, or are there bunnies and circles everywhere?

Filed under: circles n\' bunnies — alecsothblog @ 9:42 am

July 25, 2007

Circles, Eyes, Rabbits and Avant-Garde Cinema

Filed under: circles n\' bunnies — alecsothblog @ 11:02 pm

Early this week I wrote about human vision and the scarcity of circular photographs. This led to a post about the retinal photograph of a rabbit and a couple of posts about circles and bunnies (here and here). All of this got me thinking about avant-garde cinema. Surely there must be a film about bunny-eyes?

I started with the surrealists. There is eyeball mutilation in Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929), but no bunnies:

still from MUn Chien Andalou. Watch the movie here and here.

Then I watched Emak Bakia (1926) by Man Ray. What a great little film – and I’m not just saying that because it includes Kiki de Montparnasse. It has lots of circles and eyes but, alas, no rabbits:

Still from Emak Bakia. Watch the movie here and here.

I found more of Kiki’s eyes in Ballet Mécanique (1924). The movie was made by Fernand Léger with cinematography by Man Ray – still no bunnies.

Still from Ballet Mécanique . Watch the movie here and here.

Kiki was friends with Jean Cocteau. Cocteau seems like someone who might have put together some bunnies and eyeballs. He didn’t – but in 1950 Cocteau brought to France a young American filmmaker he admired: Kenneth Anger. While in Paris, Anger used his recently botched suicide as the basis for a film, Rabbit’s Moon:

Still from Rabbit’s Moon

Still from Rabbit’s Moon

The title of the film refers to Japanese myth. “It’s interesting that the Japanese do not see a face or Man in the Moon as we Westerners do,” said Kenneth Anger, “but see a mythological animal, the white rabbit.”

The movie shows the clown Pierrot continually failing to grasp the moon. Harlequin appears and taunts Pierrot. Later we learn that the moon is a metaphor for Columbine. In Elliot Stein’s book Caligari’s Cabinet and Other Grand Illusions, he writes:

All of Anger’s films are separate movements in one vast film, a large symphony in which all kinds of rituals occur as here with the stultifying return of zoom after zoom into the blinding full moon which looks down on the progress of Pierrot from romantic illusion to destruction. If Pierrot is Anger himself, then Pierrot’s new toy, the Magick Lantern, is obviously the cinema.

Kenneth Anger on the set off Rabbit’s Moon

Due to a studio scheduling conflict, Anger had to stop shooting and left the film uncompleted. But it suddenly resurfaced in the 1970’s with a strange pop soundtrack. In a fascinating essay, Michael Cohen describes how he spent years tracking down the man behind this soundtrack:

Finding the identity of the song, and a copy of an official release, became my personal mission. I began referring to it as “the most obscure song in the world” and as “the greatest song no one’s ever heard.” For seven years, on and off, I searched for any clue….

The song literally seemed to have come from nowhere—as though Kenneth Anger, desperate for the perfect soundtrack, had conjured it ex nihilo from the depths of the netherworld in some shadowy deal with Lucifer. I shuddered to think what Anger must have offered in return.

Finally, in early 2004, as I was losing hope—a sudden surprise breakthrough. Through a string of coincidences involving an Australian woman named Anne I tracked down the aforementioned Andy Arthurs. He was indeed the culprit, and identified the song as “It Came in the Night,” an extremely rare non-album track by A Raincoat. A month later I ordered the single from an Australian record dealer for a mere $10 plus shipping. At last, I scratched that seven-year itch.

Cohen goes on to do a bunch of interesting research on Andy Arthurs. His biggest single was “I Can Detect You (for 100,000 Miles).” I love the picture of him wearing binoculars. I just wish the magnifying glass he was holding was round:

  • Listen to It Came in the Night here

Baby Eyes

Filed under: artists,circles n\' bunnies — alecsothblog @ 3:00 am

Rinko Kawauchi

Her photographs are almost always square, but Rinko Kawauchi makes me think of circles. They say that newborns see the world upside down. I wonder if it sort of looks like Kawauchi’s world.

AILA(86), 2004, by Rinko Kawauchi

“People often say that I have a child’s eye. For example, I stare at ants gathering around sugar, or when I seek shelter from the rain, I gaze upon snails. These are things which you often do when you are a child aren’t they? I have a very similar sensibility to that.” Rinko Kawauchi

Rinko Kawauchi

“I prefer listening to the small voices in our world, those which whisper. I have a feeling I am always being saved by these whispers, my eyes naturally focus on small things. Even when I walk around Shibuya, I find myself running towards a little batch of flowers. I find comfort in them. I think this is a very normal sensitivity, on the contrary to what people may think, I think its sound.” Rinko Kawauchi

Untitled (from the series “Cui Cui”) 2005 by Rinko Kawauchi

She has also photographed bunnies in a circle:

Rinko Kawauchi

  • Visit Kawauchi’s site here
  • Read interviews with Kawauchi here and here

July 24, 2007

Full Circle

Filed under: circles n\' bunnies — alecsothblog @ 10:57 am

Boy holding bunny near house in Wisconsin, ca. 1870, by Andreas Larsen Dahl

  • See a larger image of the boy holding a bunny here
  • See more of Dahl’s circular photographs here
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