Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Last Days of W. by Alec Soth



Jon Stewart of the Daily Show made an interesting observation in the days after Barack Obama was voted President-elect. He mentioned that walking in the streets of New York he noticed everyone was making eye contact with each other and silently nodding. It was my experience as well, loads of strangers engaging in secret handshakes of a 'job well done.' Here we are counting down the days until the blue light appears on the horizon.

Without revisiting the litany of problems this country faces, as we know them all too well, it is as if she is emerging with divorce papers from an abusive marriage. Hopefully the restraining order will be granted for there will be no jail time served.

Alec Soth's latest venture on the printed page is a self-published newspaper with the gothic-script title of The Last Days of W. 36 photographs within which even the inanimate objects look simply worn out and exhausted. With many of us down on our luck, this is supposed to only cost you a fiver.

A crumbling empire? or one just running out of gas. The fuzzy dice draped on the dear skull have turned up snake eyes and the bank moves in. A painting has Jesus closing a business deal (In Greenspan We Tru$t). A young soldier stares blankly, waiting for us to help patch his peanut butter and jelly wounds. Pawn shops and Osama Bin Laden pinatas are the New Order. Take a tissue if you feel your eyes well up.



Fireworks play second act to Arby's and Chevron while the political scenery kills the foliage it uses for realism. Camp Purgatory flies an inverted flag (have those messy socialist hippies no pride?). A grandmother, who should be staring with wide-eyed pride over a newborn, becomes a walking billboard for the housing crisis. The gate is left open after the Oval office is hastily emptied and we awake, without the shirt on our backs, wondering what just hit us. Did a natural disaster sweep our house away leaving us untouched and in bed? An epilogue of 'Either dusk or dawn'? Only time will tell.

All of this presented without the reactionary high blood pressure and boiling rage? How dare his description have a soothing effect. I want to knee-jerk someone in the groin! Who the hell is Soth's therapist? Better yet, do they have an opening for Monday?

Available at Dashwood Books

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

is the newspaper available for purchase somewhere?

Jeff Ladd said...

I know Schaden.com has copies but they are in Germany. It was available all over Paris Photo. I can only guess there will be places in the US to purchase.

Maybe someone else knows??

Stan B. said...

Now, if we could only have a Truth & Reconciliation Act...

daniel shea said...

i too am very interested in finding one of these in the states. modern painters published a few of these in their latest issue.

Jan V said...

I bought mine at Magnum at Paris Photo. Maybe try their website.

On the last page 'Haunch of Venison' is mentioned: a gallery or publisher?
http://www.haunchofvenison.com/media/9184/finalsothpressrelease.pdf
The photos will be on show at their Zurich (Switzerland) gallery nov 08 / jan 09

They seem to have a New York office / gallery as well:
http://www.haunchofvenison.com/en/#page=newyork.information.contact

Jeff Ladd said...

You may want to also try the Weinstein Gallery in Minneapolis. They were exhibiting the work at Paris Photo.

rr said...

I ordered mine through Haunch of Venison Zurich.

Eric said...

A little bird told me they'll be available in the states shortly. Your best bet is to contact the NY Magnum office.

Lester B. Morrison said...

Dear Mr. Whiskets,

1) 'The Last Days of W' will soon be available on the Magnum Photos website.

2) 'The Last Days of W' is currently available on my website: http://littlebrownmushroom.com/

3) Mr. Soth's therapist is Dr. Jim Beam from Kentucky.

Sincerely,

Lester B. Morrison

Anonymous said...

You can pre-order now at the MagnumNY bookstore. http://store.magnumphotos.com/

Lester B. Morrison said...

Here is a direct link on the Magnum store:

http://tinyurl.com/6aacwl

Vincent Borrelli said...

Dear Mr. Whiskets,

'The Last Days of W' will also be available in a limited edition of 100 (including a signed "placemat" photograph) from our store soon.

Best,
Vincent Borrelli, Bookseller

Jeff Ladd said...

Vincent,

I saw that too on the link above. I think everyone should order from Haunch of Venison if just for the name. Great!

Anonymous said...

I'll take a hundred, thanks. But if he reprints it he better clearly label it as a second edition or there'll be hell to pay. Haha.
Michael W

bibliomaniac said...

What is the print run on this title?

Anonymous said...

It's a print run of 100, but since Photostyle, Vincent Borrelli, Top Choice, ModernRare, Rudy Perpich, B-Wo, M. McKee, Dan Harris, Art Brute, and other Amazon dwellers will buy all of them, there probably won't be any left for us.

In Amazon parlance, better get one before the price triples!!! Only 5 left at this price!!!

Vincent Borrelli said...

Why not buy from MAGNUM and support them... they run a lean office (vs. giving it away to Amazon commissions). V

Anonymous said...

One question though, is it newspaper print quality?

b said...

Dear Anonymous,

I never buy 5, sometimes I'll buy 2, in this case I might not even buy 1. $200 is a lot for a placemat that I'd make a mess of the 1st week I have it. I'll probably buy the regular newsprint if I can find it though. Soth just make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

But should I bath it in MOM?
http://tinyurl.com/newsprintconservation

A.B.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the lists on Amazon – they’re part of what make collecting fun for me. And, combined with sites like this one, help open my eyes to books I might not otherwise discover. Personally, I own fewer than 200 photo books, but I love reading about them and am always pleased to acquire a book that’s going out of print or difficult to find. With my Amazon list, I do my best to point out interesting books and, if I happen to know, where they might be found when no longer available on Amazon. As for buying multiple copies of books, I did buy two copies of ‘The Last Days of W’ at about $17 each. I bought them from Magnum. It’s one of maybe ten books I have a duplicate of.

I enjoy this site very much. Keep up the good work.

Brian (B-Wo)

Anonymous said...

Brian, you're a good man. The problem with some of the Amazon lists are that they are anonymous shills trying to drum up the price and interest on a book for their own online sales or collection. But worse, and most important, they have turned photobooks into just a commodity - merchandise - rather than the ideas and passion and stories told within the pages themselves. Who cares if "Amazon only has 3 left! But now before it's $200$$$$" Etc., etc, etc.

A book like Zoe Strauss's "America" is so damn powerful, it would be a shame to talk about it as anything other than its poignant, somewhat depressing images.

Vincent Borrelli said...

Re. print run question: My contact at MAGNUM said 10,000 were printed (5000 for the US and 5000 for Europe).

Jeff Ladd said...

Anon,

The print quality is OK. It is newsprint but it has a good presence. It is not disappointing.

Is the Zoe Strauss America book really good? Should I look into it?

Anonymous said...

Jeff - I think "America" is one of the five best photo books I've seen this year (the images, not the quality of the book [which is just ok]). It's like "Sleeping by the Mississippi," but much more edgy, in-your-face, and set across much of the country. I think it's about $20 on Amazon.

Jeff Ladd said...

Anon,

I'll look into it. I saw copies at the Strand and gave it the quick flipbook treatment and put it down to quickly. Malcolm Gladwell talked me into believing in snap judgments...but I'll take a second, longer look. Thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jeff, do you know this title is avaiable at Dashwood! Pls check this out! Miwa

http://www.dashwoodbooks.com/info.cfm?object_id=7038&inventory_id=7427&cookie1=6668640.54295&email=

Mr Whiskets said...

Thanks Miwa...I just posted the link after the review.

QT Luong said...

Doesn't anyone find it curious that an "artist's book" that isn't "really trying to accomplish much at all"
is printed to 10,000 copies ?

Steck's Blog said...

I guess thats not so limited having so many copies, but that didn't stop me from buying two :)