Alec Soth's large indoor journey
Street photographers, documentary filmmakers, photojournalists – every picture maker who works in these fields is prepared to work out the fascinating nuances of everyday life. For Alec Soth of Magnum Photos, like most photographers working in the field, this usually means photographing passers-by, strangers, and people just going about their business.
"My normal process is usually walking around in my car, talking to strangers and persuading them to get an idea," he explains. He has worked this way for much of his career, producing photographic observations of the American heartland in acclaimed series ranging from his career-defining 2004 book Sleeping by the Mississippi to the exuberant 2015 songbook.
But in 2016 Soth experienced some kind of revelation on a trip to Finland and then began to question his work. Soth was tired of the fact that his work felt transactional and even exploitative as he himself described it. He took a year off from his job to revise his practice. He marked his "return" with his most intimate work to date, "I Know How Angry Your Heart Beats," which was published in book format by Mack last year and is now being shown in a solo exhibition at Foam in Amsterdam. Predominantly portraits, interspersed with the occasional still life, the series is both a silent exploration of the connection between our interiors and our inner character, as well as the result of a radical reworking of his approach to photography.
Wherever Soth went, he reached out to people he knew there and asked for recommendations on who to photograph in that location. "I didn't want that project parameter to exist for this place, that type of person, etc.," he says, removing the narrative and directional constraints that previous projects have defined.
Picture above: Sonya and Dombrovsky, Odessa, 2018. Here: Leopold, Warsaw, 2018. All pictures © Alec Soth / Magnum Photos