Few photographers create the cinematic scenery that Alex Prager depicts in her work. Part film noir, part Wizard of Oz circa 2025, Prager has taken an aesthetic and made it one of the most recognizable in the world of contemporary photography. That is hard to do in this day and age. Right now, her Compulsion series is on simultaneous display at three galleries: Michael Hoppen Gallery, London until May 26, at New York’s Yancey Richardson Gallery until May 19, and M+B Gallery, LA until May 12.
The exhibitions of Compulsion will feature a selection of color photographs from the series, as well as Prager’s new short film, La Petite Mort, with accompanying film stills.
A bit of press:
MoMA curator Roxana Marcoci has described Prager’s work as “intentionally loaded,” saying “it reminds me of silent movies — there is something pregnant, about to happen, a mix of desire and angst.” Prager’s new work furthers her exploration of subversive narratives through the construction of “scenes” inspired by media tragedies and paired with emotive close-ups of eyes. The eyes, whether interpreted as belonging to the viewer or the subject, operate as a mode of investigation—an aid to decoding the scenes and implicating the viewer by provoking an emotional response.
Inspired by the photography of Weegee and Enrique Metinides and films such as Metropolis and Un Chien Andalou, Compulsion confirms Prager’s vivid cinematic aesthetic. Unlike her previous work, however, the protagonists now remain anonymous and distant. Prager’s new series investigates the complexity of observation within a society inundated by compulsive spectators, as well as the recurrent discourse in photography — that “meaning” is often derived from a multiplicity of gazes.