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Juxtapoz Magazine Alex Prager Continues to Study Cultural Mythologies & Archetypes

Part 2: Run, Alex Prager’s multi-part exhibition at Lehmann Maupin will culminate in the debut of Prager’s ambitious new film at the gallery’s New York location in January 2023. The exhibition is a direct response to a time of cultural ambivalences, uncertainties and examines the collective will for existence and explores the possibilities for empathy, participation and action both within art and daily life.

The ten photographic works that make up the ten-part series are shown below. Part 2: RunPrager, who will be featured in Palm Beach examines the cultural mythologies of archetypes that influence our shared existence. Films like Claire, Frances, Diner, and The West are fervently cinematic. They create rich characters and question genres like the noir and Western, as they probe current concerns and anxieties. The carefully staged characters have a tenuous relationship with time and place. They are suspended between the present and the past.

Prager weaves rich, sometimes ambiguous stories throughout her practice. Slyly suspended in action, Prager’s carefully staged but ultimately open-ended scenes invite questioning and active engagement from viewers. Prager’s work suggests a relentless, unyielding movement forward through time even in the face of suspended uncertainties and anxieties, but her nostalgic and cinematic body of work also evokes a notion of contemporary experience that looks to the past to interpret the present and explore themes about common humanity. The Palm Beach exhibition builds upon a solo presentation of the artist’s work at Lehmann Maupin London earlier this year.

Prager explores cinematic conventions and theatrical strategies in this new body work. He explores how our senses of self as well as our engagement with others can be mediated by familiar narratives and tropes. Mime, a vivid and intricately orchestrated image of a group, is shot from above. The work’s sharp angle renders the scene uncanny, at once exposing its artifice and undermining it. The mime is seen at the lower end of the work, gesturing with her hands expressively. However, the frame itself is full of mimes, which can be described as farcical dramas. In Prager’s work, the mime is not only a character, but also, perhaps, a method for thinking through strategies of representation: here, and across Prager’s practice, figures assume familiar postures and poses in order to inhabit character; to engage and reflect; and ultimately, to understand and empathize with others. Viewers, too, become active participants in Prager’s works. Mime’s center is a woman holding a camera who faces the viewer and points her camera towards them. Prager invites visitors to explore her symbolically and visually saturated works. This is a reminder that they also have critical parts.

The foundation for this new body of work is the artist’s powerful new film, Run, which will be exhibited at the gallery’s New York location in January 2023. The film stars Katherine Waterston and features musical compositions from Ellen Reid and Philip Glass. A seemingly ordinary day becomes chaotic when a huge, mirrored sphere propels itself through the community. Here, forward motion is countered by retrospection, and figures collide into their own reflections in the sphere’s surface, and Prager suggests a curative, collective reckoning with those forces outside of our control.

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