Gallery 1

August 5 - September 21, 2016


Hypnagogia is a hallucinatory mental state between wakefulness and sleep, a blurring of consciousness which is often associated with heightened creativity. The idea for this themed project came to Alec Soth unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, and the photographs that make up the exhibition are gleaned from years of work between 1996 and the present day. 

Soth has spent a significant part of two decades travelling around America, photographing quiet, strange, and offbeat corners of that vast country. Based in his home state of Minnesota, he studied at Sarah Lawrence College (under Joel Sternfeld for a time) and has since come to be regarded as one of the most significant figures in the world of contemporary photography. The works in Hypnagogia are drawn from several of the artist's best-known series, including Songbook, Broken Manual, and Sleeping by the Mississippi; rather than being a simple collection of individual works, they are conceived as a form of narrative, with special emphasis on the relationship between the photographs. Geographically and chronologically disparate, the images that form Hypnagogia coalesce as a series of visions or dreams; the people in them have eyes closed or obscured, heads that are tilted back or turned away; one person stumbles, and another is suspended in mid-air. Anxiety and threat are suggested by dramatic waves, a tunnel, and a cave, but there are also awakenings, with glowing light and the promise of blue sky.

Alec Soth's work has had many international showings, with notable survey exhibitions in Jeu de Paume, Paris; the Walker Art Centre, Minnesota; and Media Space, London. A member of Magnum Photos and the recipient of a Guggenheim Scholarship, he is represented by Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Sean Kelly, New York; Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis; and Loock, Berlin. 

The Douglas Hyde Gallery would like to thank the artist and Carrie Thompson for their enthusiasm and support. A new publication with a text by John Hutchinson will accompany the exhibition. 

Click here to view the Alec Soth publication