Compelling Photographs of Life Off the Grid in Alec Soth’s ‘Broken Manual’

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Broken Manual is a stunning series of photographs created by Alec Soth over a four-year period between 2006 and 2010. Inspired by men who have become disillusioned by society, the series shows the lives of those who have chosen to remove themselves from civilization. Consisting of portraits, landscapes and images of their habitats, the resulting work is a strange, poignant and at times disturbing view of the mysterious lives of a handful of men. Made up of hippies, hermits, monks and survivalists, it’s an amazing look at those who choose to live off the grid.

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Soth is a Minneapolis-based photographer who has received a considerable amount of attention over the last several years and has also received a number of awards. This series includes a manual, written by Lester B. Morrison (Soth’s alter ego), which serves as a guide for those also interested in retreating from society.

In addition, the work was also the subject of a documentary released in 2010 by French filmmakers Laure Flammarion and Arnaud Uyttenhove. Covering more than 20,000 miles, the directors and the photographer trekked through America in search of those who have hidden away from the world. The resulting trip forms a 57 minute documentary about the photographers projects. You can find out more and rent the film here. Images from Broken Manual can be seen on Soth’s website.

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December 18, 2013 / By