Alex Prager is bursting onto the international art scene in 2012. She recently won the Paul Huf Award from the FOAM museum in Amsterdam, and this month her latest body of work, Compulsion, opens at Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, M+B in Los Angles, and Michael Hoppen Gallery in London.
Born in 1979 in Los Angeles, Prager dropped out of high school and had a variety of odd jobs before a William Eggleston exhibition at the Getty Museum inspired her to pursue a career in art. She got her first solo show, Polyester, in 2007 at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica, California, and in 2010, MoMA included Prager in New Photography, an annual show featuring up and coming photographers. Her work was subsequently acquired by MoMA, the Whitney Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Moderna Museet of Stockholm.
In addition to Eggleston’s influence, Prager’s work draws on Cindy Sherman, Weegee, and Enrique Metinides, as well as cinema. Her photographs often resemble film stills, and in 2010, she began extending this aspect of her work into filmmaking. The Compulsion series includes her film La Petite Mort, literally “the little death,” a French idiom for orgasm, and the piece meditates on death and the boundaries of human life through its main character, played by actress Judith Godrèche. The photographs in the Compulsion series include news media scenes of tragedies paired with photographs of eyes, creating an emotional confrontation with the tragic scenes.