Gathered Leaves

Alec Soth


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With texts by Aaron Schuman and Kate Bush
22.8 cm x 22.3 cm
Clamshell box housing four mini facsimile books
29 large format postcards
ISBN 9781910164365

Alec Soth’s reputation as one of the leading lights of contemporary photographic practice is largely predicated on the books he has published. This unusual catalogue accompanies a touring exhibition which uses the four major bodies of work which Soth has published as books since 2004 as the structural basis for both a mid-career retrospective and an investigation of Soth’s prescient understanding of the various and distinct applications of photography as a tool for storytelling across diverse media. The title of the exhibition comes from Walt Whitman’s poem Song of Myself [1855] and references both the pages of his books gathered for consideration and the notion that his work is also a story about Soth himself.

Soth's meteoric rise to international acclaim began with his first book, Sleeping by the Mississippi, published by Steidl in 2004. The book has sold through numerous print runs and has long been out-of-print. It embodies not only a moment in which a new and original voice emerged with an unusual ability to transpose subtle and highly personal stories of local American life, but also marked a significant early event in the photo-book publishing boom we are currently experiencing. The success of his two subsequent volumes, Niagara [2006] and Broken Manual [2010], combined with the hugely influential exploration of self-publishing under his Little Brown Mushroom imprint, have all reinforced Soth’s position as a master of the book form. The recent success of Songbook [2015] has seen a return to the mainstream of book publishing.

This catalogue is a special object, bringing together an essay by Aaron Schuman spread across 29 large format postcards, with mini facsimile versions of Soth’s 4 books [3 of which are now out-of-print], all housed together in a luxurious printed and embossed clamshell box.


Embossed cardboard box with 4c printed paper cover and interior printed 1c. [228 mm x 223 mm]


28 large format postcards printed one side with the images from the exhibition. With an essay by Aaron Schuman spread across the backs of the cards. One additional card printed with an introduction by Kate Bush, curator of the exhibition and Director of Media Space, London.

Four mini facsimile books

  1. Sleeping by the Mississippi [113 mm x 108 mm]
  2. Niagara [109 mm x 128 mm]
  3. Broken Manual [86 mm x 112 mm]
  4. Songbook [113 mm x 108 mm]


  • 6 October 2015 — 28 March 2016: Media Space, Science Museum, London, UK
  • 22 April – 26 June 2016: National Media Museum, Bradford, UK
  • 26 August 2016 – 8 January 2017: The Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finland
  • 17 February – 4 June 2017: FoMu - FotoMuseum, Antwerp, Belgium

Alec Soth (b. 1969) is a photographer born and based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His photographs have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the 2004 Whitney and Sao Paulo Biennials. In 2008, a survey exhibition of Soth’s work was exhibited at Jeu de Paume in Paris and Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland. In 2010, the Walker Art Center produced a traveling survey exhibition of Soth’s work entitled From Here To There. Soth has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship (2013). In 2008, Soth founded his own publishing company, Little Brown Mushroom. Soth is represented by Sean Kelly in New York, Weinstein Gallery in Minneapolis, Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, and is a member of Magnum Photos.

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