» New York – Alex Prager: “Part Two: Run” at Lehmann Maupin Through March 4th, 2023

Alex Prager, Run (2022), via Lehmann Maupin
Alex Prager, Run (2022), via Lehmann Maupin

This winter, Lehmann Maupin presents Part Two: Run, an exhibition of work by Los Angeles-based artist Alex Prager, that marks the debut of Prager’s ambitious new film, Run and features a selection of new photographs and sculptures made in conjunction with and in response to the film. Directly responding to a period of cultural ambivalences and uncertainties, the exhibition urgently examines human perseverance and explores the opportunities for empathy, participation, and action present both within art and everyday life.

Prager’s work draws much from the collective experience of viewing, whether that be a cinematic experience, or the shared act of looking while stuck in traffic. Using these spaces, Prager crafts rich, often ambiguous narratives that examine cultural archetype, social space, and the modes in which these shape collective existence. The result are often densely layered images that construct and deconstruct the body, turn it into a site for musing, and to simultaneously distance the experience of daily life from reality, finding instead a site for contemplation and reflection in the subtly strange. Occupying a tenuous relationship to time and place, the artist’s carefully choreographed figures remain suspended between the past and the present, and Prager gestures to a collective will to exist that not only transcends our immediate circumstances but persists despite them.

Alex Prager, Sleep (2022), via Lehmann Maupin
Alex Prager, Sleep (2022), via Lehmann Maupin

The foundation for Prager’s latest body of work is the artist’s powerful new film, Run. Featuring musical compositions by Ellen Reid and Philip Glass and starring Katherine Waterston, the film deploys cinematic archetypes and absurdist humor as it examines human resilience in the face of catastrophe. An otherwise ordinary day in an uncannily generic setting erupts into chaos when a massive, mirrored sphere propels itself through a community. Here, forward motion is countered by retrospection. Figures collide into their own reflections in the sphere’s surface, and Prager suggests a curative, collective reckoning with those forces outside of our control.

Alex Prager, Cecily (2022), via Lehmann Maupin
Alex Prager, Cecily (2022), via Lehmann Maupin

The New York exhibition presents this work in dialogue with photographs and sculptures that further complicate and enrich the film’s fundamental concerns. Prager’s photographic work Sleep (2022), for instance, stages the characters and crowds from the film spread across the cement, caught in a moment of repose that references their collisions with the aforementioned ball. Directly engaging the film’s central image, Prager’s sculpture Ball (2022) shows a hyper-realistic figure of a woman, whose head appears to be crushed by the mirrored sphere. As viewers approach the object, they are likewise confronted by their reflections, and they, too, become enfolded within Prager’s lively narratives. Here, as throughout the exhibition, Prager invites viewers into her visually and symbolically saturated works, suggesting that they, too, have critical parts to play.

The show is on view through March 4th.

– D. Creahan

Read more:
Alex Prager: Part Two: Run [Exhibition Site]

on Tuesday, January 31st, 2023 at 12:00 pm and is filed under Art News, Featured Post, Show.
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