Get Lost in the Photographer’s Retro-Styled Studio on the Occasion of Her First Museum Show
“There's something strange about the rift between reality and fiction,” says LA-born photographer and filmmaker Alex Prager of her work that sees her play dress-up with her sister and muse Vanessa in her Silver Lake studio. Inspired by Prager’s cinematic images, director Arnaud Uyttenhove translated them into a playful portrait, juxtaposing her color-saturated archive with still lifes of vintage costumes and props. Following bouts of agoraphobia, the MoMA 2010 New Photography artist began to explore the loneliness and alienation that crowds can provoke, coating her images’ dark mood with a saccharine veneer. “I'm interested in creating a world for these characters to live in,” explains Prager, whose work is part of collections at the Whitney Museum in New York and Moderna Museet in Stockholm. For her latest series Face in the Crowd, exhibited at her first solo museum show at Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, the photographer channeled the voyeuristic gaze previously employed by Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin through the lens of 21st-century surveillance paranoia and post-Facebook isolation. “I want there to be a sense that something isn't quite right,” adds Prager, whose show includes a self-directed film with the all-American actress Elizabeth Banks. “Is it real or is it fake?” Frequently injecting her series with noirish moods that brings to mind the psychologically daunting clichés of Hitchcock, as well as pioneers such as William Eggleston, Weegee or Martin Parr, Prager’s portraits blur the boundaries between the real and the surreal, the immediate and the staged, the contemporary and the nostalgic.
Which emotions do you associate with crowds?
Alex Prager: Anxiety, boredom, fear, terror, frustration, curiosity, strong interest, warmth.
Unlike Eggleston, who captures the fleeting moment, your images are staged.
AP: By staging them, I can create an emptiness or flatness that wouldn't otherwise be there. I am not interested in taking pictures of real crowds.
How does cinema inspire you?
AP: The production aspect is really important to being able to make my work. I'll see shots in old movies and think, wow, I didn't know you could do that. I guess the thing about movies is that everything is possible. Knowing that opens a lot of doors in the imagination that wouldn't otherwise be there.
Face in the Crowd at Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC runs through March 9, 2014.
Illustrator Margot Bowman Imagines the Ornaments of Tomorrow in a Three-Part Celebration of Christmas 2062
Fast-forwarding to a dystopian future where time is precious, silence is rare and true affection a luxury, illustrator Margot Bowman animates the extroverted, energetic Christmas decorations that she imagines will join us for the holidays several decades from now. At just 23 years old, Bowman counts fashion and beauty brands such as Kiehl’s, Alexander McQueen and Rupert Sanderson as clients and has also collaborated with the British Fashion Council as Creative Director of The Estethica Review, a magazine released during London Fashion Week to promote ethical fashion and design. In this first installment of a three-part, animated series, we are introduced to the ‘Huggeration’, an outgoing bauble that senses when people in the room feel lonely, and responds with TLC. We also meet the well-intentioned ‘Shshhhhhhh’, which collects negative noise and energy that may threaten to ruin Christmas. Working with animator Andy Baker, Bowman enlisted the musical talents of songwriter Kai Fish to create a space-age soundtrack for the festive films.
Check back tomorrow for Part Two, and a behind-the-scenes look at Bowman's animated magic.
The International Art Collective Enlists Benjamin Millepied for a Digitally Abstracted Performance
“I found that myself and Benjamin Millepied had a shared motivation for breaking conventions, being inventive with technologies and finding new ways to represent the human form,” says Universal Everything-founder Matt Pyke, introducing today’s audio-visual performance he created with the renowned French choreographer and founding director of the vanguard LA Dance Project. Entitled Presence, Pyke’s digital art studio’s latest collaboration explores the intersection of human movement and computer coding, creating a CGI graphic flourish. It’s a pulsating film with bursts of color—“alive with primal expressions of gestural drawing and choreography,” says Pyke. Universal Everything’s grand installations have appeared in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and La Gaite Lyrique in Paris. The work is often partnered with sound composed by Matt’s brother Simon Pyke, as in today’s film, which forms part of the immersive, architectural installation Universal Everything & You, the inaugural exhibition of the London Science Museum’s new Media Space. “We had the dancers think about the multiple sculptures their bodies create as they move, and how these represent the music, the same rhythmic pulse,” explains Pyke of the way Nathan Makolandra and Julia Eichten reacted to the tribal-influenced electronic score as they were motion-captured for the piece. “There is a delicate balance in finding movements which feel alive, not synthetic. This point of tension is where the magic happens.”
Universal Everything & You runs at the Science Museum's Media Space, London from September 21 through February 7.