What can I say? I, like many photographers, writers and may other artists for that matter, am drawn to images inspired by family and the one's closest to us. There is a certain intimacy that comes through an image when made from within any relationship whether loving, difficult, conflicted, or otherwise. But then, aren't most relationships in one or more of these states at given anytime? Dog Days Bogotá by Alec Soth is not these images of interaction; it is a prequel to this. It's more like a promise to bring someone—someone innocent and a bit unknown—the most unconditional promise of love. It is a beautiful monograph of images made in Columbia, the birthplace of his adopted daughter, Carmen Laura. The introduction reads, in part:

Carmen's birthmother gave her a book filled with letters, pictures and poems.  "I hope that the hardness of the world will not hurt your sensitivity," she wrote, "When I think about you I hope that your life is full of beautiful things."

Alec Soth took those words as a mission statement and began documenting the city where Carmen was born. I read somewhere that he did not originally set out make a book, rather to document this hard place for the beauty that remained among man's failures. Either way, the images are wonderful.

The metropolitan area of Bogotá has 8 million in population. In an area so densely inhabited, crime, pollution and corruption make life dangerous. Among the struggles in such a place are good intentions and honorable actions and life in earnest pursuit of good. A place where there is hope. This book is proof.

The pictures are square. A different approach than we are used to seeing from Mr. Soth. This format sets this body of work apart from the rest of his imagery, furthering emphasizing the personal nature of his efforts. The book is stunningly printed and small, which is a lot like flipping through a handful of five-inch prints. This format and the natural, gentle colors throughout beg for quiet contemplation at each image.

Guns and saints. Feral dogs. Military. Faith. Crumbling city buildings. Life making life beautiful. Handing each other compliments and insults. Giving and taking and taking and giving. Dog Days Bogotá shows what life holds for us, what we have let pass by us, where to find what we are seeking.

 

Shawn Gust

 

 

© Alec Soth

 
 

© Alec Soth

 
 

© Alec Soth

 
 

© Alec Soth

 
 

© Alec Soth

 
 
© Alec Soth