Shooting the Debris

Anyone who’s taken a road trip across the country knows that remnants of “that old, weird America” Greil Marcus referred to are plentiful if you take time to look. Minnesotan photographer Alec Soth has traversed the nation several times, and he possesses a keen eye for the peculiar oddments that scatter the heartland’s landscape. Soth is best known for his 2004 series “Sleeping by the Mississippi,” a collection of disarmingly candid photographs of the idiosyncratic individuals, ramshackle architecture, and desolate panoramas located along the Big River. For his latest project “Postcards From America,” Soth embarked on a trip from San Antonio to Oakland with colleagues from the Magnum photography collective to document the rugged solitude that distinguishes the American Southwest. The results — shots of abandoned theaters, foreclosed condos, scruffy punk kids, and migrant families — are every bit as haunting as Soth’s earlier photos from the Mississippi. But Soth doesn’t trade in what is often derided as “disaster porn” — he captures the unvarnished beauty and unbowed vitality of the disheveled people, landscapes, and buildings that populate his work.
Tue., Nov. 29, 7 p.m., 2011

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