The Armory is overwhelming and each year it seems to get more so. It is a physical impossibility to see everything in the allotted weekend so one had to prioritize. Sean Kelley was hovering near the top of our list as they have an eye for talent and spent last year constantly exhibiting interesting photography. The Sean Kelley booth took some time to find in the labyrinthian rows of drab and identical looking booths that The Armory organizers, some of the most talented and sought after curators in the world, decided to use for arguably the largest art show of the year. Once there we were not disappointed, Casebere (who we have discussed at length previously) had some beautiful prints there, but also there was brilliant Alec Soth.
Admittedly ignorant of his process I can only guess. It looks like Soth uses a mixture of found and sourced images to create the pictorial equivalent of a Hemingway novel.
"A picture is worth a thousand words" is a cliché and disagreeable statement. A sentence can be worth a thousand pictures, and a picture can invoke a lifetime. Upon seeing The Reverend and Margaret's Bedroom, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 2002 the viewer is instantly transported into that bedroom, and into that life and feels the pangs of jealousy, loneliness or longing that have clearly been poured into the yellowing photographs. The comparison to Hemingway is because the viewer attempts to construct a larger narrative from a distanced point of view and with only the basic information. There is a woman whose picture is repeated, in the older pictures she is young and and in the younger pictures she is old. She has brown eyes and a soft neck and her smile can light up a room.
The longer the viewer stayed with Soth's work the longer the story becomes and the more the viewer gets personally involved.
Soth's last show at Sean Kelley was in 2012, he is due for another.