Alex Prager | Current (Issue 52): All Times Reinterpretations

USA, 1979 alexprager.com / most remarkable work – Film Stills – Big Valley – week-end-composition / style-conceptual /See also.- I don’t know. Parr-Y. Morimura-A. Hitchcock – W. Eggleston – D. Circus-C. Sherman-G. Crewdson-D. Lynch – Weegee – M-B. White – D. Arbus – G. Bourdin – H. Newton – J. Sternfeld – P. Lorca diCorcia

“If the photos are really good, the only thing that matters is how good the outcome is, and not who or what they are made for.”

Prager, who opened her first personal exhibition in Turkey, Istanbul International Art and Culture Festival in 2015, IST. Festival, is a photographer and filmmaker producing post-production works in a wide field of areas ranging from popular culture and Hollywood cinematography to the reality of street photography. As one of the new stars of the world of contemporary photography in the United States, the artist has also performed in major galleries in London, New York and Los Angeles along her rising career path. In her works, you may see traces of Martin Parr, Yasamasa Morimura, Alfred Hitchcock, William Eggleston, Douglas Circus, David Lynch, Cindy Sherman (one of her project is titled “Film Stills”, but Prager does not use her self-portrait in it as Sherman did), Gregory Crewdson, Diane Srbus, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton, Joel Sternfeld, Philip-Lorca Dicorci. Actually, she says that the Eggeston exhibition in the Getty Museum, which she visited in 2000, inspired her to take photographs. One week after this exhibition, she bought darkroom materials on eBay, and, six months later, she had her first solo exhibition.

Among the works which generally consisted of recreations of the black-and-white photos taken by Diane Arbus and H.C, the only photograph that was sold in the exhibition was the colored photo she took by re-staging “the Wizard of Oz”.

Alex Prager states that the important thing is to recreate a work without copying, with your own interpretations and feelings. “I’m from Los Angeles, the center of cinema, and when I think of something for a picture, I don’t care how much it costs or how hard it will be, I just follow my imagination.” Prager produces Technicolor2 photos with a dark and disturbing style. There is an eerie monotony in her photographs beside a weired perfection. Her characters look like Hollywood actresses with their fake eye lashes, retro-styled decorated wigs; well-groomed women of the 20. century. Each scene contains an unresolved story, as well as curiosity about the past, present and future.

Everything in Prager’s images actually tells a story. “I ‘suck my stories out’ of the media and re-stage them in a bright, colorful, funny world that doesn’t really exist in my studio in Los Angeles,” Prager says.

If you look at the works of Prager, it’s not “funny,” you know, it’s the feeling in Hitchcock’s movies, just like in “The Birds”. Hitchcock shows you dark and heavy subjects in his movies and does it in an intense and beautiful way. No matter how uncomfortable it is, you can’t keep away your eye because you want to stay in this world. Prager takes these difficult issues and presents them in a more fun and soft way.

In Prager’s works, there is a direct commitment to Alfred Hitchcock’s works, especially his melodramatic scenes. “Eve”, for example, in Hitchcock’s classic “The Birds”(1963) panicked when she was surrounded by pigeons, or “Kimberly” in “North by Northwest”(1959), in the first dramatic Airplane scene may come to mind. What is more, Prager’s archetyp3 blondes call for Hitchcock “ladies” at first sight. (Tippi Hedren, Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint…)

Prager’s photos and movies are made up of super-saturated colors. For example, in “Despair”, the lower leg of a scene shows half of the woman’s leg, while bright red heels give a high contrast with white skin and a half-appearing green dress. As in the photographs of William Eggleston, one of the pioneers of color art photography, the use of color, which has already evoked Prager’s Eggleston, is also the main aesthetic factor shaping the architecture and environment of Western America in the ’60s and’ 70s.

As in the series “Compulsion” (2012), Prager offers tragic events and accidents in the press by exaggerating them a bit and using the diptych technique. Every title reverses its name, time and place. (3:32pm Coldwater Canyon and Eye #5 2012)

Every diptych is made up of close-up eye photography, which also forces the viewer to look at the picture.

In addition to cinematic references, Prager’s work creates an interesting relationship with photo-journalism and street photography. For example, Prager’s voyeuristic and sensational images resemble the photographs of American freelance press photographer Weegee or Margaret Bourke in the 20. Century – white in the middle of the century… (beach accent, Coney Island, 1952 National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne)

Alper Güldemet