The New Yorker‘s Whitney Johnson talking to Alec Soth about the creation of Magnum’s photographic archive of Rochester, New York:
A year ago we did a project called Postcards From America. It was a groundbreaking experiment. Rather than waiting to be commissioned, we just made a decision to do something and hit the road. We drove from San Antonio to Oakland. It was really thrilling. But it was also pretty chaotic.
Martin Parr had the idea of doing an archive project similar to what he’d done in the Black Country. Archives are about preserving history. So it made sense to work in a place that was in economic transition. So we started thinking about Northeast industrial cities. Initially we thought about Detroit, but it has already been so well covered by photographers. So we began thinking about other areas and Rochester came up. Given the demise of Kodak, the idea of a photographic archive in this place where so much photographic history was born made a lot of sense.