Scot Sothern’s Lowlife is an illustrated memoir of dysfunction, a confession of a befuddled white guy maintaining a precarious connection to propriety and fatherhood while side-tripping into noirish infatuations. Sothern’s images, shot mostly in Southern California between 1986 and 1990, record the existence of these disenfranchised Americans, men and women, hawking souls for the price of a Big Mac and a fix, struggling in a culture that deems them criminal and expendable. As Sothern opines, “Anyone could offer them 10 bucks to take a brick in the face and they’d hold out their palm.” These timeless portraits, described as both harsh and intelligent, reveal the never changing plight of the street prostitute. The photography on display throughout Lowlife is at times explicit. The images bring to mind the works of early twentieth-century photographer E.J. Bellocq, as well as contemporary photographers Nan Golden and Diane Arbus.
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(All rights reserved. Text @ DRKRM Gallery and images @ Scot Sothern.)