AUSTIN, Texas The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, is partnering with photographer Alec Soth and writer Brad Zellar to bring their limited edition, “irregularly published” newspaper The LBM Dispatch to Texas.
Launching the project from Austin, Soth and Zellar will go on the road for two weeks, exploring the roughly triangular area between San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Galveston and documenting in words and photographs the state’s faces, voices and places.
After their travels across Texas, Soth and Zellar will offer a preview of the new installment of The LBM Dispatch, to be titled “The Texas Triangle,” in a one-night-only, pop-up show on Friday, Dec. 6 at the Ransom Center. Photographs from the road trip will be on view on the Center’s second-floor mezzanine following introductory remarks in the Prothro Theater at 7 p.m.
“We are thrilled to be working with Alec Soth and Brad Zellar on this project,” said Ransom Center Chief Curator of Photography Jessica McDonald. “The LBM Dispatch brings together images and text in a way that reveals an unexpected, and at times provocative, look down our American backroads.” McDonald will organize the pop-up show for the Ransom Center, and students from The University of Texas at Austin’s Art Department will assist Soth and Zellar.
The LBM Dispatch began as an experiment for Soth and Zellar, both based in Minnesota, posing as small-town reporters and scouring the Twin Cities suburbs for news and human interest stories. They decided to take their imaginary newspaper on the road and since May 2012 have produced five state-themed issues of The LBM Dispatch after trips through Ohio, New York, Michigan, California and Colorado. The newspaper is published by Little Brown Mushroom (LBM), an independent publishing company started by Soth in 2008.
Soth and Zellar planned to include Texas in their project almost immediately. “Once we had established the concept of The LBM Dispatch a series of newspapers in which each issue was devoted to a single state we knew we had to photograph in Texas,” Soth said. “Whether one is talking about politics, culture or sheer geography, the role Texas plays in American life is too big to ignore. Texas is more than a state. As Steinbeck said, it’s ‘a state of mind.’ “
Zellar agreed, adding, “In preparing for Dispatch trips I’m always drawn to four things in my researchhistory, mythology, literature and music and there are very, very few states that can yield such diverse and colorful offerings in every one of those areas. Throw in the iconic geography, the strong regional (and ethnic) identities, and the sheer brawny extent to which the place has insinuated itself in the national imagination, and you have the reasons why Texas has been near the top of our wish list from the beginning.”
Soth has been a full member of the Magnum Photos agency since 2008. He is the author of “Sleeping by the Mississippi” (2004), “NIAGARA” (2006), “Dog Days, Bogotá” (2007) and “Broken Manual” (2010). His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the 2004 Whitney Biennial and the major 2010 survey “From Here To There,” organized by the Walker Art Center. In 2013 Soth was the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.
Zellar is author of several books including the award-winning “Conductors of the Moving World” (2011), “The 1968 Project: A Nation Coming of Age” (2011) and “House of Coates” (2012). His book “Suburban World: The Norling Photos” (2008), drawn from the archive of an amateur photographer who freelanced for the Bloomington, Minn., police department, was a visual inspiration for the Coen brothers’ film “A Serious Man,” set in 1960s Minnesota.
This LBM Dispatch project and the related pop-up show complement the Ransom Center’s current exhibition “Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos into the Digital Age,” which runs through Jan. 5. The pop-up show is free and open to the public and is presented with support from the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin.
A high-resolution press image related to the Little Brown Mushroom project is available.