Capturing the Altered State Between Wakefulness and Sleep

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© Alec Soth, courtesy of the Douglas Hyde Gallery

Alec Soth's latest exhibition presents a dreamlike retrospective of his captivating opus

American photographer Alec Soth has spent most of his 20-year career travelling around America capturing its people, landscapes and pervading moods in his distinctive style, defined by a poetic candidness and evocative sense of narrative. The latter quality is one that Soth has exploited to pioneering effect in his latest exhibition at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, titled Hypnagogia, which pulls together a number of works from various projects across his career that "coalesce as a series of visions or dreams". The term hypnagogia refers to a "hallucinatory mental state between wakefulness and sleep," the gallery's website informs us – "a blurring of consciousness which is often associated with heightened creativity".

The concept for the retrospective aptly came to Soth in the middle of the night: he would display certain images that he felt were relevant to the theme in a manner that was geographically and chronologically disparate, his main agenda to create a new, dreamlike dialogue between each. A ginger-bearded labourer dozes in a field; a pale man in swimming trunks is mysteriously suspended upside-down on a rock face; a young girl in a raincoat stands with her back to us as a powerful wave breaks before her; a masked sheep stares into the distance with a prophetic melancholy. The overall effect of such images when unified is, by turns, wistful, meditative, surreal and hopeful – a bit like dreams themselves – and we hope will make for a happy (if slightly Lynchian) start to your week.

Happy Monday! #anotherhappymonday

Alec Soth: Hypnagogia is at The Douglas Hyde Gallery until September 21, 2016.