Over at The Daily Beast, Rachel Wolff informs us of two exhibitions of photographs by L.A.-based artist Alex Prager opening in both New York and L.A. this winter. Check it out–and be sure to click through the gallery of Prager’s “living dolls.” There are samples from two series by Prager–“Weekend” and “The Big Valley.” (I thought the photos in “The Big Valley” were more interesting.) Wolff writes:
In many ways, Prager’s women—draped in faux fur, coolly smoking cigarettes—are metaphors for Los Angeles itself, which the artist has called “a strange picture of perfection… with a sense of unease under the surface of all this beauty and promise.” It’s an easy metaphor (and one we’ve seen before) but there is a certain allure to Prager’s images. They recall the roleplay and self-imposed artifice of Cindy Sherman’s film stills; they offer a user-friendly antidote to the sort of palpable grit embraced by other female artists living and working on the West Coast (Katy Grannan and the duo Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn among them); they’re pretty, private, and self-referential—the sort of thing you’d want to hang in a bedroom instead of over the couch—but nonetheless macabre, especially given the recent demise of pretty young things Brittany Murphy and Casey Johnson.
Wolff calls the images “living dolls,” not because they’re perfect–far from it, in most cases. Instead, they look to me like the cool embodiment of the various tortures, bad haircuts, and mutilations that most girls force their dolls to endure. (This usually happens after early childhood, and is perhaps an expression of tween anxieties or ambivalence about the threats of adolescence or the burdens of adult womanhood.) You remember doing it too. Don’t you? Anyway: I’m envious of those of you who are or will be in New York or L.A. this winter. I’m stuck in the Rockies, but don’t cry for me:
I almost can’t believe it myself, but tomorrow, I just might try to ski!