Taking its name from a line in Wallace Stevens’ short poem “The Gray Room,” Alec Soth’s latest book is a lyrical exploration of intimacy. While these large-format color photographs are made all over the world, they aren’t about any particular place or population. Whether made in Odessa or his hometown of Minneapolis, Soth’s new book is fundamentally about intimate encounters in private rooms.
“After the publication of my last book about social life in America, Songbook, and a retrospective of my four, large-scale American projects, Gathered Leaves, I went through a long period of rethinking my creative process. For over a year I stopped travelling and photographing people. I barely took any pictures at all.
When I returned to photography, I wanted to strip the medium down to its primary elements. Rather than trying to make some sort of epic narrative about America, I wanted to simply spend time looking at other people and, hopefully, briefly glimpse their interior life.
In order to try and access these lives, I made all of the photographs in interior spaces. While these rooms often exist in far-flung places, it’s only to emphasize that these pictures aren’t about any place in particular. Whether a picture is made in Odessa or Minneapolis, my goal was the same: to simply spend time in the presence of another beating heart.” - Alec Soth