Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Birds, Dogs, and the Photographs of Alec Soth

Two reasons I’ve been drawn to the photographs of Alec Soth:

1. Iowa

Call me a sentimentalist. When I saw that the photos Soth took for the NYT‘s Continental Picture Show series were based in Iowa–my home state–I was hooked. “Iowa Bird Story” is a video of Soth’s journey to photograph Neva Morris, the oldest woman in the U.S. at 114 years of age, unfolds like a picture book. Short, declarative sentences explain the photographer’s actions. Video and still photos capture Soth’s persistence in discovering the real narrative: How does a 114 year-old woman view her world?

2. Dogs

I’d seen Soth’s work at the MassArt galleries last fall, and also solicited work from the gifted photographer for the magazine that I edit. Soth graciously agreed to provide the cover for our upcoming issue from his series, “Dog Days, Bogota.” I love the clarity and composition of his photographs; in the photo that will become our next cover, Soth captures a Colombian family of mother, father, and toddler–parents standing in an embrace beside their child in a stroller. The image is both familiar (it has all of the elements of middle-class America) and subversive (the couple are dressed in leather jacket, piercings, with coiffed hair).

The dog of his title is a sad, likely wild, dog seated calmly on a forbidding cliff overlooking Bogota. Again, the juxtaposition of the domestic and the urban is what grabs your attention. Who wants to consider a dog without a human home?

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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