“Niagara is part of American mythology. It’s a place of romance, where people go to get married, but when I got there my view of the place totally changed. The American side is economically devastated. It’s bleak.” – said Alec Soth in 2006, when the first edition of Niagara was released by Steidl and turned out to be an immediate success. A second edition was released by Steidl in 2008 and was also soon impossible to find. Until MACK made a reprint in 2018.
Niagara is the follow-up to Soth’s critically acclaimed debut monograph Sleeping by the Mississippi. In this book, Soth turned his eye to another iconic body of water, Niagara Falls. As with his photographs of the Mississippi, Soth’s pictures of Niagara are less about natural wonder than human desire. “I went to Niagara for the same reason as the honeymooners and suicide jumpers,” says Soth, “the relentless thunder of the Falls just calls for big passion.” Working over the course of two years on both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls using a large-format 8×10 camera, the photographs are rigorously composed and richly detailed. Soth depicts newlyweds and naked lovers, motel parking lots and pawn shop wedding rings. Throughout the book, Soth has interspersed a number of love letters from the subjects he photographed. We read about teenage crushes, workplace affairs, heartbreak and suicide. His pictures are a remarkable portrayal of modern love and its aftermath.