The parameters of our cage

A correspondence between an inmate and a photographer

Words by

Artdoc

One of the postcards in the book

In January 2020, Alec Soth received a letter from Chris Fausto Cabrera, an inmate of the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Rush City, in which he asked the photographer to engage in a dialogue. This is how the book is introduced to you as a reader. It makes you curious. What has Alec Soth in common with an inmate? Where will they write about? What will the book reveal?

Fausto or Chris, as Alec Soth calls him later, is a writer and a prisoner and Alec is a photographer, well known worldwide. Between the two, a literary dialogue unfolds itself during the pandemic, starting at the beginning of 2020. One of the questions they ask themselves is ‘which photos to bring to a deserted island’.

For photographers, the most interesting parts are the letters of Soth in which he tells about himself and his work, adding to the many thing we already know of him.

He tells for instance that he often feels like the protagonist of Hitchcock movie Rear Window, a photographer being in a wheelchair who spies on his neighbours. On the other hand, Soth identifies his work with the gloomy and moody picture of Robert Frank, ‘View from Hotel Window’, in which Frank shows the dark world of loneliness and suffering.  

Very insightful are the answers Soth gives to Fausto about the essence of his photography: ”I often say that when I take a portrait, the thing I’m really capturing is the space between myself and my subject.” And: “My ideal distance for making a portrait is about the length of a seesaw – close enough to exchange energy, but far enough to properly visualise separateness.” He even draws a diagram to explain the distance between him and the subject.

Postcard in the book


Interesting is how Alec Soth tells about his meditation practice before he gave a lecture in Finland. “While walking to the hotel, I felt connected to everything. I felt incredible for every single person on the street.” After the meditation, he drew another diagram in which the distance was reduced to almost zero. And stunning enough, he tells that he stopped taking photos for a whole year after this awareness struck his mind. “In the end, my work is more successful when I dig deep into my vulnerabilities- when I speak from my wounded and scarred energy.” Herewith Soth makes a statement that should count for all photographers.  

Intriguing is the letter, at the end of the booklet, in which Soth talks about the function of art. “Art has allowed me to work with my darkness in a way that is not too destructive.” This ‘art statement’ could be the introduction of many art statements or biographies, like those of the photographers Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Eugene Smith, Sebastiāo Salgado and Roger Ballen, including also the painter Vincent van Gogh.

This charming little book is very insightful, showing the warm and empathetic character of a great photographer.

The Parameters of Our Cage C. Fausto Cabrera & Alec Soth
DISCOURSE is a series of small books in which a cultural theorist, curator or artist explores a theme, an artwork or an idea in an extended illustrated text.
Mack Book
Paperback with flaps
12.5 x 19.5cm, 128 pages
ISBN 978-1-913620-15-8
October 2020
€8 £7.5 $9

Sign up now

Join for access to all issues, articles and open calls
Already have an account? Sign in

Payment Failed

Hey there. We tried to charge your card but, something went wrong. Please update your payment method below to continue reading Artdoc Magazine.
Update Payment Method
Have a question? Contact Support

The parameters of our cage

A correspondence between an inmate and a photographer

Words by

Artdoc

A correspondence between an inmate and a photographer
One of the postcards in the book

In January 2020, Alec Soth received a letter from Chris Fausto Cabrera, an inmate of the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Rush City, in which he asked the photographer to engage in a dialogue. This is how the book is introduced to you as a reader. It makes you curious. What has Alec Soth in common with an inmate? Where will they write about? What will the book reveal?

Fausto or Chris, as Alec Soth calls him later, is a writer and a prisoner and Alec is a photographer, well known worldwide. Between the two, a literary dialogue unfolds itself during the pandemic, starting at the beginning of 2020. One of the questions they ask themselves is ‘which photos to bring to a deserted island’.

For photographers, the most interesting parts are the letters of Soth in which he tells about himself and his work, adding to the many thing we already know of him.

He tells for instance that he often feels like the protagonist of Hitchcock movie Rear Window, a photographer being in a wheelchair who spies on his neighbours. On the other hand, Soth identifies his work with the gloomy and moody picture of Robert Frank, ‘View from Hotel Window’, in which Frank shows the dark world of loneliness and suffering.  

Very insightful are the answers Soth gives to Fausto about the essence of his photography: ”I often say that when I take a portrait, the thing I’m really capturing is the space between myself and my subject.” And: “My ideal distance for making a portrait is about the length of a seesaw – close enough to exchange energy, but far enough to properly visualise separateness.” He even draws a diagram to explain the distance between him and the subject.

Postcard in the book


Interesting is how Alec Soth tells about his meditation practice before he gave a lecture in Finland. “While walking to the hotel, I felt connected to everything. I felt incredible for every single person on the street.” After the meditation, he drew another diagram in which the distance was reduced to almost zero. And stunning enough, he tells that he stopped taking photos for a whole year after this awareness struck his mind. “In the end, my work is more successful when I dig deep into my vulnerabilities- when I speak from my wounded and scarred energy.” Herewith Soth makes a statement that should count for all photographers.  

Intriguing is the letter, at the end of the booklet, in which Soth talks about the function of art. “Art has allowed me to work with my darkness in a way that is not too destructive.” This ‘art statement’ could be the introduction of many art statements or biographies, like those of the photographers Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Eugene Smith, Sebastiāo Salgado and Roger Ballen, including also the painter Vincent van Gogh.

This charming little book is very insightful, showing the warm and empathetic character of a great photographer.

The Parameters of Our Cage C. Fausto Cabrera & Alec Soth
DISCOURSE is a series of small books in which a cultural theorist, curator or artist explores a theme, an artwork or an idea in an extended illustrated text.
Mack Book
Paperback with flaps
12.5 x 19.5cm, 128 pages
ISBN 978-1-913620-15-8
October 2020
€8 £7.5 $9

The parameters of our cage

A correspondence between an inmate and a photographer

Words by

Artdoc

The parameters of our cage
One of the postcards in the book

In January 2020, Alec Soth received a letter from Chris Fausto Cabrera, an inmate of the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Rush City, in which he asked the photographer to engage in a dialogue. This is how the book is introduced to you as a reader. It makes you curious. What has Alec Soth in common with an inmate? Where will they write about? What will the book reveal?

Fausto or Chris, as Alec Soth calls him later, is a writer and a prisoner and Alec is a photographer, well known worldwide. Between the two, a literary dialogue unfolds itself during the pandemic, starting at the beginning of 2020. One of the questions they ask themselves is ‘which photos to bring to a deserted island’.

For photographers, the most interesting parts are the letters of Soth in which he tells about himself and his work, adding to the many thing we already know of him.

He tells for instance that he often feels like the protagonist of Hitchcock movie Rear Window, a photographer being in a wheelchair who spies on his neighbours. On the other hand, Soth identifies his work with the gloomy and moody picture of Robert Frank, ‘View from Hotel Window’, in which Frank shows the dark world of loneliness and suffering.  

Very insightful are the answers Soth gives to Fausto about the essence of his photography: ”I often say that when I take a portrait, the thing I’m really capturing is the space between myself and my subject.” And: “My ideal distance for making a portrait is about the length of a seesaw – close enough to exchange energy, but far enough to properly visualise separateness.” He even draws a diagram to explain the distance between him and the subject.

Postcard in the book


Interesting is how Alec Soth tells about his meditation practice before he gave a lecture in Finland. “While walking to the hotel, I felt connected to everything. I felt incredible for every single person on the street.” After the meditation, he drew another diagram in which the distance was reduced to almost zero. And stunning enough, he tells that he stopped taking photos for a whole year after this awareness struck his mind. “In the end, my work is more successful when I dig deep into my vulnerabilities- when I speak from my wounded and scarred energy.” Herewith Soth makes a statement that should count for all photographers.  

Intriguing is the letter, at the end of the booklet, in which Soth talks about the function of art. “Art has allowed me to work with my darkness in a way that is not too destructive.” This ‘art statement’ could be the introduction of many art statements or biographies, like those of the photographers Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Eugene Smith, Sebastiāo Salgado and Roger Ballen, including also the painter Vincent van Gogh.

This charming little book is very insightful, showing the warm and empathetic character of a great photographer.

The Parameters of Our Cage C. Fausto Cabrera & Alec Soth
DISCOURSE is a series of small books in which a cultural theorist, curator or artist explores a theme, an artwork or an idea in an extended illustrated text.
Mack Book
Paperback with flaps
12.5 x 19.5cm, 128 pages
ISBN 978-1-913620-15-8
October 2020
€8 £7.5 $9
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.