Alec Soth's MN Memory

The iconic photographer on having Prince as a neighbor

An illustration of Alec Soth.

illustration by michael hoeweler

“My childhood home was a turn-of-the-century farmhouse in Chanhassen. A creek ran through the property, and near the house a tree had grown between broken slabs of concrete. When I was a kid, this little area was my fort, my world—a world Prince moved into when he bought a house on the adjoining land. I could walk through the forests to a fence and see his patrolmen on snowmobiles. You know how, when you’re a kid, you think you’re the center of the universe? Here was the most famous man you could think of, and he lived right there. When I was 16, we moved to Minneapolis, and a little later, Prince bought our old property. He kept the farmhouse for some time. But then, presumably for tax reasons, he tore it down. I find myself going back sometimes. There are still steps up to where the house used to be, and then just a big hole. Weeds have pushed through cracks in the driveway. I don’t take pictures out there. Even though, as a photographer, my work is about venturing into the world, it comes from that internal place where I would spend so much time alone. I try to inject all my work with that.”