ALEC SOTH'S MANUAL FOR BROKEN MEN
SOTH, Alec and Lester B. Morrison.
[Saint Paul, Minnesota]: [Little Brown Mushroom]; (Göttingen): (Steidl), (2010).
4to (280 × 215 mm), pp. (incl. 4 folding). Colour and black-and-white photographs. Printed grey wrappers, cream cloth spine with title in black ink; slight spine slant. Signed and numbered by Soth in black ink on the rear with his green ‘Little Brown Mushroom’ ink stamp. Signed and numbered 10 × 8 “ colour photograph laid in. Housed in a hollowed out book ‘Elephants’ as issued, with a bi-fold leaflet and smaller colour photograph laid in to a pocket which is signed and numbered by Soth. Fine.
First edition of 300 copies. Alec Soth created Broken Manual over a period of four years between 2006-2010. Following the success of his first two books Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004) and Niagara (2006), he began to investigate the places where people go to escape civilisation, and the people that go there to escape, including monks, survivalist, hermits, and runaways. Created an underground instruction manual of sorts for those wishing to escape their lives.
Each one of the 300 copies in the edition is housed within another book which has been hollowed out by hand. All 300 copies were installed as part of Soth’s first major survey exhibition at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (September 12, 2010 - January 2, 2011), and later at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York (February 3 - March 11, 2012).
In a 2012 article in Interview magazine Soth explains how the project had its origin in a commission by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta to make work in the American South: ‘... so I was working in Atlanta, and wasn’t interested in Atlanta, and then I remembered the Olympic bomber, Eric Rudolph. I poked around where he had been living and hiding out while the FBI was looking for him. I wasn’t so interested in the politics of it, it was more the fantasy of the man on the run, something I have always been attracted, the fugitive, that kind of story. I ended up in Northern Georgia and I went this tiny little monastery with four or five guys there, it got me thinking about how I wanted to get at that desire to run away, without it being a documentary essay on a specific ideology, outside of the documentary tradition.’
Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol. III p.228.