Photo Essay: Alec Soth on How to Disappear in America

For his series Broken Manual, iconic contemporary photographer Alec Soth traveled across the United States in search of modern hermits. He found monks living in ghost towns, solitary hippies dwelling in the woods, and other anxious ascetics who retreated from society into caves, cabins, and isolated trailers for decades, in preparation for the decline of our civilization. Filmmakers Laure Flammarion and Arnaud Uyttenhove documented his artistic road trip in their new film Somewhere to Disappear, riding in the back of the photographer’s van for 20,000 miles, from state to state, from story to story.

See some striking portraits and derelict landscapes from the series, as well as fascinating black and white portraits of Soth’s subjects’ possessions, their tools for loneliness. (Beware of brief artificial nudity.) Catch the trailer to Somewhere to Disappear at the end of the gallery.


Courtesy of Alec Soth