Self taught photographer and filmmaker Alex Prager, inspired by the drama and allure of Americana paints a playful cinematic world that masks the unease in everyday life.
Silver Lake Drive; a curation of photographs and footage at the Photographers Gallery, London.
I also snuck out to see Alex Prager in discussion at the Regent Street Cinema and to see her screening of Le Grand Sortie, which follows the female protagonist, a ballet dancer and her anxiety from the pressure of public performance.
Prager’s short film; Face in the Crowd
Walking through a curtain into a small space with a bench and three walls dimly lit by projectors, I was unaware of what to expect. Alex Prager’s short film has managed to simulate social anxiety. The film starts with snippets of interviews with people, talking about their life, love, and fears. Each wall displays an overwhelmingly scaled portrait of a single person.
The film is shown by multiple projectors forcing you to turn and look at another wall. Seemingly, this feels like an introduction to the individuals until I noticed this turning of the head is like being in a state of panic and the film hasn’t even truly started yet.
Once the sequence begins, we see the female protagonist (Elizabeth Banks) curiously staring out of the window at an increasing crowd with plenty of background noise and chatter. She eventually ventures out walking against the crowd with a look of amazement. The crowd soon envelops her, turning that amazement into fear. It’s too much. Suddenly, as if time froze, the crowd is at a standstill and the noise disappears. With a sigh of relief, the shot combined along the three walls, she walks out of shot and the crowd return to normal. What made this short film impactful to me is that it was far too easy to relate and empathise with the protagonist by having that anxiety of the public myself.
As a viewer it struck me that in spite of the embodiment of chaos that you’re also in a sense of ‘Sonder’ * – the realisation that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.
*Koenig’s dictionary of obscure sorrows
Women; jaw-dropping, pristine glamour pusses to be precise. I spied the odd red-head too or at least the odd red-head wig. Not to say that the men are left behind but they play a secondary role in most scenes.
Melodrama, comedy and desire also weave their way through her work.
WHICH IMAGE, WHICH ROOM?
Pacific Ocean, 2012
The immaculately fallen caught in staged terror.
People just drifting, through life, in the moment, continuous – some struggling , some defeated, some indifferent.
QUESTION FOR THE IMAGE MAKER:
Any director, past or present that you could create a fantasy world with, who would you choose and where would you take us?