AT J U S T T H I R T Y-T H R E E , Alex Prager is already as golden as that famed Los Angeles ‘magic hour,’ a photographic term used to designate the first and final hour of sunlight during day. In this highly desirable light, shadows are less dark, contrast diminishes and highlights are much less likely to be overexposed. Prager’s images, foreboding in their large-scale, are stylistically suggestive of Sirk’s Technicolor, sharp and saturated moments hinting at repression, with the turbulence of emotion suspended in surreal cinematic glamour. They exude a suspense some have likened to Hitchcock, where a determined uneasiness pervades. Yet the heroines, as all her subjects are women, have a certain clarity and confidence of being, assured as they are of starring roles in the tundra of melodrama that comprises each still frame. A photographer who untiringly taught herself technique in her twenties after being inspired by a William Eggleston photo exhibit at the Getty, Prager disarms with a kind of Gothic innocence, untainted by art school theories about how to position her work. Although her images are unambiguously synthetic in their staging of scenarios that women, named Rita, Wendy, Jane, or Cathy, might daydream themselves into, peril lurks, beneath surfaces, and before, as well as after, the instant so dazzlingly captured. As a native Angeleno, Prager grew up a shade east of Hollywood in Los Feliz, where her grandmother raised her until she flew the coop. Her unconventional childhood gave shape to a nomadic existence, and the ensuing flux complicated her receiving a more formal education.
between SoCal and Florida, where her father lived, and Switzerland, where she sold knives one summer at the age of fourteen (!) and returned to for a few years, she took to exploring Europe for months after her seasonal job ended. Still Los Angeles based, she mines the myths that permeate this city to expose a melancholic, noir poetry in the remnants of feminine dreams on the brink of being dashed, albeit brightly in the constant saturation of California’s sun. Her raw spiritedness has hooked in many tastemakers, even garnering her a MoMA show, in 2010, where she participated in the New Photography exhibition. Her photographs are also in the permanent collections of several major museums including MoMA (New York), the Whitney Museum of
Celebrating MOPLA (Month of Photography Los Angeles), Issue 16 of Fabrik concentrates on Photography with profiles of the inimitable Catheri...