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Alec Soth
La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Photographs by Alec Soth

Text by Francesco Zanot

Design by Nicola Veccia Scavalli

Punctum, 2011

Italian edition of 175 copies

Hardcover clothbound

52 pp., 19 color illustrations

305 x 390 mm

ISBN 978-88-95410-31-9

Item #0913

1.280 0913 Sold Out

‘If John Keats often wrote poems in tribute to specific works and figures in more or less recent history...Alec Soth follows a similar principle, setting the foundations of his own series on bases supplied by Keats. The rooting of Soth’s LBDSM does not stop here, though, because he raises on the solid Keatsian platform a further level of quotations and many other references. Thus...his still-life with a bowl and three pieces of fruit in the center harks back to Tony Harrison’s verses in A Kumquat for John Keats, and an apparently ordinary city scene is actually a partial reconstruction of a photo by Ruth Orkin, shot in Florence in 1951 and known by the title An American Girl in Italy; it shows a young woman besieged by leering men.

This is a veiled statement of the process that Soth uses to create his images, exploiting the possibilities of control and staging offered by what is known as “staged photography” rather than (as he has done more often) merely recording the reality in front of his eyes, without altering it in any way. This excessive adherence to the model leads to the suspension of images deprived of the quality that’s usually (and naively) attrib- uted to any photo: truthfulness. The result resembles awakening from a dream, ex- actly what happens in Keats’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci toward the end of the poem. What indubitably corresponded to reality until just a moment before turns out to be an imitation’. Francesco Zanot

Read more:

The Photobook (review), New York Times (interview)

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