The Arts Club is delighted to announce an exhibition of work by Alex Prager who will be presenting photographs from her highly acclaimed Face in the Crowd series, which debuted at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 2013. This exhibition at The Arts Club will be one of the first opportunities to see her work in the U.K.
Prager, who lives and works in L.A., draws upon the language of cinema in her work. Face in the Crowd is a series of large-scale photographs of crowds of costumed actors taken on meticulously constructed sets. Prager assembles a cast of character types and the resulting images have a heightened aesthetic and capture a series of staged moments, which on first appearance mimic film stills. The references in Prager’s work are wide-ranging, from filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock to contemporary photographers such as William Eggleston.
In this compelling series of new works, the level of artifice is explicit. The scenes were all shot on a Hollywood soundstage, in the case of the beach scene using twenty tons of sand. Prager’s characters sport costumes, hairstyles and make up which span eras from mid-century to the present day, and she deliberately chooses high view points, giving the impression of a camera suspended above the crowd. While the settings she uses vary, from beach scenes to street corners and lobbies, Prager’s interest in exploring the two sides of a crowd is constant, as she explains:
“It can be a massive sea of strangers that become this anonymous cloud in your way. Or it can be all hundreds of beautiful special little individuals with their own experiential tracks.”
The figures do not make eye contact, lending a heightened sense of dislocation. This effect of singling out individuals is all the more apparent in the new works presented in this exhibition, in which Prager uses a filmstrip format, interspersing close up images with shots of the crowd. Such qualities suggest solitary emotions and, seen within an exhibition context, an examination of mass spectacle. Viewers are drawn to individuals within each of Prager’s compositions and invited to construct narratives from the clues she presents.