Loners, preachers, sex workers and sinners: how Alec Soth captured the real America

By Sean O'Hagan
Preacher Man … Joshua, Angola State Prison, Louisiana, 2002. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and MACK
In 1999, Alec Soth set out on the first of a series of road trips along the Mississippi, travelling from his hometown of Minneapolis, which lies close to its headwaters, to Louisiana in the deep south. Eschewing the detached approach favored by many of his contemporaries, Soth made evocative portraits of the often isolated individuals he encountered along the way, from loners to convicts, from sex workers to self-styled preachers. The book may yet become an elegy for a continent once again riven by the old tensions of race and religion, but also the new post-truth politics of Trump-style Republicanism. Sleeping by the Mississippi is at Beetles+Huxley, London, September 19 to October 21, 2017. The book is republished by Mack this month. [More]