For the past four years Alec Soth has been taking photographs of men who, frustrated with societal constraints, flee civilization to inhabit the natural landscape. Soth's subjects simultaneously emanate anger, mystery and deep-seated vulnerability. In a previous interview with The Guardian, Soth explains his technique, saying, "I use an 8in-by-10 in view camera and I put a dark cloth over my head, so it's a very slow process, and people have to be still." He continues, "I like this because I prefer the subject to be quiet and move inside themselves, so they are in a reflective state."
What is the inner life of a hermit like, you ask? There is something unsettling about the men in Soth's images; they quietly address the interior struggle between savagery and civilization, between masculinity and sensitivity. It is clear that the men place great trust in Soth; the natural urges for both bold masculinity and sensitivity lurk in the shadows of their honest faces. Their haunted, faraway expressions create equally haunting imagery, the wilds of the woods mirroring the recesses of the mind.
Soth's exhibition "Broken Manual" will show at Sean Kelly Gallery until March 11.