Alec Soth – Reading Task.

This piece is in response to a task set in our Contextual Studies lecture. We were given 4 different articles on Alec Soth’s exhibition at the Science Museum titled ‘gathered leaves’.


Alec Soth Reading Task

This is the first article I looked at (soth-bjp), written by David James.

The article appeared in The British Journal of Photography on the 8th of October 2015. It seems to be aimed at anyone with a passion for Photography, fans of Alec Soth’s work and those who are thinking of going to this exhibition. The purpose of this article is to expose Alec Soth’s thoughts behind his exhibition and its meaning as well as the thoughts and observations of David James to inform viewers on what to expect from the exhibition and give them some background so they can go in with some knowledge and ideas before looking at the images.

The writing style of this article differs to the others I looked at in that it doesn’t feel extremely academic and I therefore relate to it well. It feels as though it is written by a friend who has visited the exhibition before me. The grammar is more relaxed and it uses more jargon and puns within the writing which makes it quite entertaining to read. It was quite easy to understand because I liked the humour and didn’t get bored when reading it which sometimes happens with more formal writing.

The other articles were featured in the financial times, the guardian and Compared to the locations of those articles, David James published his article in the British Journal of Photography which is aimed mostly towards photographers. I can see that that influenced David James’ Writing and that is probably why I connected with it so well.

The part of this article I found most useful was the interview section. When Alec said, “Without a doubt there’s a difference to how people internationally respond to the pictures, which is very interesting to me. Even within America people on the east coast respond differently to people on the west coast. This is just fine by me – I don’t have a specific agenda – I’m happy to have multiple interpretations. I love being in this institution that’s accessible to all these different kinds of people.” I love the way he explained this and I think this is how I would like my work to be. I want anyone to be able to connect with my images, in any way, no matter where in the world they are from.

The next article I looked at was written by Sean O’Hagan (Alec Soth – the guardian).

It was published in the guardian on the 6th October 2015 so was available both online and in their newspaper. It was aimed at readers of the guardian (the guardian is a daily newspaper and covers many topics such as politics, culture and international news) so many people who may not have necessarily been interested in Photography or this exhibition could read it and be intrigued. I believe the purpose of this article is to give readers a preview of Alec Soth’s work and an insight into what to expect at the exhibition in a way that leaves readers wanting to know more.

The style of writing is different in the article because there is something a little more poetic about it. Sean mentions quotes, curators etc that the exhibition reminds him of and describes it in a very thorough in depth way. There seems to be a lot more emotional meaning in this article which shows how passionate the writer is about Alec Soth’s work and this is quite relatable. Although the writing feels professional and academic it also feels very personal which means many people will be able to relate to the article and also feel inspired and interested to see the exhibition. This also makes it easy to understand.

Based on where this article was published, I understand that its intentions were to reach a wide audience and inform both fans of Alec Soth and those who had not heard of him what he is all about and what his exhibition has to offer. The guardian publishes world news, sport and much more as well as culture/arts. Someone may have opened the newspaper to see the football results and have been intrigued by the title of the article, ‘America’s most immaculate, intriguing photographer’.

One of the most useful quotes I took from the article is this –

‘The results are beautiful, whatever their subject matter. Painstakingly composed on a large-formal camera mounted on a tripod, his images can be breathtakingly stunning in their subtle range of muted colours. Despite his use of blogs and social media, Soth is essentially a traditionalist and there are echoes of other great photographers throughout his work, most notably Joel Sternfeld, who taught him for a time. He seems to have inherited Sternfeld’s eye for American oddity.’

This piece of writing informs the reader a lot about how Alec takes his images, who influences him and how he shares them with the world.

The article was referenced correctly.

I then looked at this article (soth-ft). It appeared in the financial times on the 16th October 2015, written by Francis Hodgson. More than 1.3 millions people in 140 countries read this paper and usually they are business leaders, students, educators and bankers. The financial times informs people of business news around the world, so this article is probably something rarely seen in this paper.

I believe the purpose of this article was to advertise the exhibition to people who may not usually be interested in order to reach a wider audience. Francis pulled information about Soth’s history and other endeavours to draw people in using other possible interests. This shows through the writing style, which compared to the other articles I have looked at, seems a little more scholarly/ academic whilst still showing knowledge and sentiment of Photography. The article was not difficult to understand due to my prior knowledge of Alec Soth and Photography in general. However, it may be difficult for someone with less knowledge. However, the way the writer sets the scene in the first paragraph and draws the reader in helps a lot towards understanding and “getting on the same page”.

The most useful quote I found in this article was, ‘Soth’s pictures are by no means standard-issue art photography, though; he eschews formulae, instead photographing what he sees — a close-up of an object, a portrait, a landscape — whatever it might be. He wants to react to the world, rather than force the world to conform to a schema or confirm it.’ I liked this quote because it influences my work. I would like to ‘react to the world’ in my photography, showing the world how I perceive it, through feelings.

This article did not use the Harvard referencing system, however the link was correct.

The final article I looked into was Alec Soth – TimeOut. This article appeared in Time Out, a London based magazine (also available online) which has now expanded over 107 countries world wide.





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