The exhibition presents 22 photographs by contemporary photographer Alec Soth (American, b. 1969). From 2004 to 2005, Soth photographed sobering contemporary views of life on both the American and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls. Oscar Wilde wrote, “The sight of the stupendous waterfall must be one of the earliest, if not the keenest, disappointments in American married life.” Soth captures this passion and disappointment in NIAGARA by focusing on the motifs of romance that have long been associated with the Falls – young couples, run-down motels, and pawn shop wedding rings. Using a large-format camera, Soth creates lushly detailed photographs that often belie the bittersweet subject matter of romance associated with the Falls – the “aftermath of passion,” as Soth describes it. However, Soth admits that he was not documenting Niagara Falls: “There is so much I left out,” he says. “Niagara has millions of happy vacationing families and I didn’t photograph a single one.”
This exhibition, and three others, including, Alec Soth: NIAGARA, William Morris Hunt and the French Tradition, and Media Field: Niagara, contrast historical and contemporary views of Niagara Falls and put the Falls into a broader context about art and landscape.