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Nov 23 - Mar 09

Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 Seventeenth Street NW, Washington, , DC 20006 , USA


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Alex Prager at the Corcoran Gallery of Art

There is definitely something otherworldly in Alex Prager’s work. Time seems to have stopped still, her models seem to be lost in a rather obscure and threatening universe, melancholy appears to be a natural response to an alienating reality and fashion acts as a prolongation of the subject’s feelings. Her heroines stand somewhere between the anonymous teenager that is lost in her imaginary world and the figure of a formerly successful 50’s movie star, forming an interesting mix of references and intentions. Sometimes close to the work of Edward Hopper and sometimes to Alfred Hitchcock, Prager’s photos have a mesmerizing cinematic appeal that makes them truly unforgettable.

It is certainly good news that Corcoran gallery decided to pay tribute to Alex Prager’s work, presenting her most ambitious and complex series to date, named Face in the Crowd. The exhibition, starting on November 23, features large scale photographs of people assembled in congested public spaces such as airport terminals, lobbies, beaches, and movie theaters. But don’t think that Prager’s photos are the result of a mere accident. Always blurring the line between fiction and reality, she directed the actions of hundreds of actors in costume on specially constructed sets in order to achieve her goal. As Corcoran gallery points out, these scenes, densely detailed and shot from seemingly impossible vantage points, enact psychological narratives of private and public revelation, repulsion, fear, and the desire for basic human interaction and personal safety. The stories of various characters within these crowds culminate in a new film featuring actress Elizabeth Banks. Alongside this new work, the Corcoran’s exhibition will feature a selection of earlier photographers as well as her videos Despair (2010), La Petite Mort (2012), and Sunday (2012). Moreover, Corcoran will organize a circle of film projections curated by the artist, featuring masterpieces of the likes of The Night of the Hunter or Modern Times.

Alex Prager was born in 1979, in Los Angeles, California, where she lives and works. A self-taught artist, she was inspired to take up photography after seeing the color images of William Eggleston. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, most prominently in Alex Prager: Compulsion (2012) at FOAM in Amsterdam, and in New Photography 2010 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Prager has been recognized with the London Photography Award (2006) and the FOAM Paul Huf Award (2012), among other honors. Her editorial work has been featured in Vogue and W magazine, and her short film Touch of Evil, commissioned by The New York Times Magazine, won a 2012 Emmy Award. Prager’s work is represented in the collections of major museums including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden.