Alex Prager (b.1979) presents photographs from her highly acclaimed series, Face in the Crowd, at The Arts Club this summer. In this Prager draws from the language of cinema to create large-scale, epic photographs of crowds. Assembled characters are represented by costumed actors and staged on meticulously constructed sets. The resulting images have a heightened aesthetic and capture a collection of staged moments that mimic film stills. Her influences are wide-ranging and include filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock and contemporary photographers such as William Eggleston.
In these compelling new works, the level of artifice is rendered explicit. The scenes were all shot on a Hollywood soundstage and created for the shoot: in the case of the beach scene this meant 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.
Her interest lies in exploring the two sides to a crowd: a gathering of strangers that form an anonymous cloud or a collection of unique individuals that follow their own tracks. In her photographs the members of the crowd do not make eye contact, increasing the sense of dislocation. To highlight the idea of individuals within the crowd, Prager uses a filmstrip format, interspersing close up images with shots of the crowd. It’s a comment on solitary emotion and mass spectacle, leading viewers to construct their own narratives around the characters from the clues presented.
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1. Crowd #3 (Pelican Beach) (2013) by Alex Prager archival pigment print 60 x 93 inches 152.4 x 236.2 cm