Alec Soth’s “Sleeping by the Mississippi”

Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi, a distillation of images taken on several trips down the Mississippi River, is the artist’s addition to the canon of road-trip photography books. Sleeping meanders through a somber tableau of portraits and landscapes the artist encountered using the storied river as his guide. A preponderance of images referencing sleeping and dreaming thematically hold the images together and relate to Soth’s interest in making art in the liminal state between waking and dreaming. In the colophon Soth writes, “My dream was realized in the making of this book. There is no greater joy than wide-eyed wandering.”

MACK, publisher of the latest edition of Sleeping by the Mississippi, recognizes the book as “one of the defining publications in the photobook era.”

In addition to having copies of all the published editions, the museum’s research library has a rare, unpublished mock-up with original inkjet prints (edition of 30). An exhibition featuring all these editions gives viewers an opportunity to study the evolution of this photobook classic. Please visit the library’s reading room during our public hours to view these books through September 2018.

View text panel and checklist.

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