Alex Prager’s photographs are unmistakeably postmodern. They scream with references to American directors and artists, most obviously Gregory Crewdson and David Lynch. In her work however there is no sense of place, it is all about the people. Her people though are hard to date: in fact they have a hyperreal ordinariness that appears disconcertingly fake.
It is no surprise to learn that she was born and brought up in Los Angeles. Hollywood, with its special mix of glamour and seediness, is writ large. Even the blue skies appear to have been shot with mega-watt lighting. Everything has been staged, all the people have been placed, and they appear disconnected from each other, even when in close proximity
They are overtly melodramatic and I have a puritanical aversion to this kind of thing. Good melodrama though surely is a vehicle to conduct emotion, albeit inflated. I think you have to dig deep in Prager’s work to find emotion, it left me cold. On the other hand it would seem that a lot of people disagree, at any rate she has been hugely successful. Many people clearly find the work interesting. See what you think.
Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive is at The Photographer’s Gallery 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW