Last chance to catch one of the season’s most buzzed-about photo shows, Alec Soth’s “Sleeping by the Mississippi.” A series of color portraits, landscapes, and still lifes made in the course of several circuits up and down that river, Soth’s project is a classic photographic quest and his results have an impressive heft and breadth. Although Soth hasn’t exactly re-thought a tradition established by Walker Evans and Robert Frank and carried on by William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Mitch Epstein, and Joel Sternfeld (who was Soth’s teacher), he serves it extremely well. The Mississippi supplies him with a wealth of eccentric characters, historic sites, and plenty of marvelous incidentals, from a mattress submerged in the shallows at Helena, Arkansas, to an iron bedstead among weeds in Venice, Lousiana. Unfortunately, neither this show nor the eight unnecessarily large images in the Whitney Biennial make as strong a case for Soth’s achievement as the book due from Steidl in June, but they’ll definitely whet your appetite for more.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 13, 2004