Alex Prager, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

A new solo exhibition of the work of American photographer and filmmaker Alex Prager, opens at the National Gallery of Victoria from 14 November. Founded in 1861, Australia’s oldest public art gallery proudly introduces its audiences to Prager’s lusciously rich photographic oeuvres. In her elaborately conceived and poignantly staged photographs, Prager freely references the aesthetics of mid-20th century American cinema and photography.

A self-taught artist, Prager was inspired to take up photography after seeing the work of iconic American photographer, William Eggleston. Widely regarded as the father of contemporary colour photography, Eggleston’s intense collection of prints beautifully, honestly and unsparingly capture individual scenes of the mundane. Similarly, Prager is seen compiling each of her colour images in a daringly open, but cinematic way – each print resembling an individual film still, with an entire story to tell. Packed tight with emotion and human melodrama, Prager is seen reconstructing the everyday, blending commonplace and theatricality into one frame. Comparable aspects can be found in the artist’s film work, where Prager extends her photographic practice into lusciously and elaborately constructed films – again pairing the banal with the fantastic, and real life with cinematic representation.

Living and working in Los Angeles, Prager has exhibited internationally, most prominently in Face in the Crowd (2013) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Compulsion (2012) at FOAM Amsterdam, and New Photography 2010 at MOMA. Her editorial work has been featured in Vogue and W, and her film series Touch of Evil (2011), commissioned by The New York Times Magazine, won an Emmy Award. Prager is currently represented in the collections of major museums including MOMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, SF MOMA, and Moderna Museet.

Alex Prager, 14 November – 19 April, National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3006, Australia.

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1. Alex Prager, Eve 2008. Courtesy of Alex Prager and the National Gallery of Victoria.