Alex Prager, Face in the Crowd, Corcoran Gallery of Art

Los Angeles artist Alex Prager has spent the last 10 years constructing imagined scenes for her photographic work. Full of colour, tension and narrative, Prager’s images continue to play with the figure of the woman and she draws inspiration from classic Hollywood films, fashion advertising and icons of documentary photography. For the first time her work appears in a solo museum show in the USA in Face in the Crowd at the Corcoran Gallery of Art until 9 March.

Face in the Crowd is Prager’s newest series of photographs and represents her most ambitious and complex collection to date. The exhibition is made up of large-scale photographs focused upon people standing in congested public spaces such as an airport terminal, lobby, beach, and cinema. Jumping between the realms of fiction and reality, the photographer worked with hundreds of actors in costume in specially constructed scenery. The final pieces are intricately detailed and shot from seeming impossible angles and explore the psychological narratives of private and public revelation, repulsion, fear, and the desire for basic human interaction and personal safety. Actress Elizabeth Banks stars in a new film, debuting as part of the series, that delves deeper into the stories of the various characters.

As one piece, the film and the photographs detail a portrait of the individual within the complexity of a large crowd, or society. This dynamic is drawn from influences such as silent films like Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, street photographers Mark Cohen, Bruce Gilden, and Roy Andersson’s film Songs from the Second Floor, besides a few others. Alongside this new series, the exhibition will also feature a selection of earlier photographs as well as her videos Despair (2010), La Petite Mort (2012), and Sunday (2012).

Alex Prager: Face in the Crowd, until 9 March, Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 Seventeenth Street NW Washington, DC 20006.

1. Alex Prager, Crowd #2 (Emma), 2012. Archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist.