Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

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Alex Prager at Lehmann Maupin

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Alex Prager at Lehmann Maupin

Alex Prager at Lehmann Maupin

Alex Prager employed a soundstage in Hollywood to create her latest set of works. Near the street entrance hang beautiful large scale color photographs and toward the back is an immersive three-channel video installation that the prints appear to be taken from. As the press release describes the video installation

the film opens with a series of confessional monologues in which characters from the crowd scenes poignantly relate their own stories and insights, such as childhood memories, recurring nightmares and personal revelations. Suddenly, the scene changes and an orchestra strikes as a sea of people flood into view. The iconic heroine then leads the viewer on a journey through the crowd wordlessly expressing a range of emotions including isolation, sadness, confusion, curiosity and anxiety. The juxtaposition of character monologues and the frenetic crowd scene poignantly illustrates that within a swirling sea of strangers, there are countless individual stories and unique experiences unfolding.

The concept is striking and the video could easily be longer by portraying more individuals in the beginning portion. In fact the small number of portraits at the beginning undermines the concept. I believe that commonly, individuals living in dense urban environments desire to peak into the lives of others. That is to have the opportunity to observe the day to day lives of ones neighbors or the person sitting across one in the subway. This has been a common motif in films as characters use binoculars or telescope to spy on the neighbors.

The power of bird’s eye view of a multitude of individuals flowing in a public space that is presented in the video would be enhanced if the viewer begins to identify individuals from the portraits.

Alex Prager at Lehmann Maupin

Alex Prager at Lehmann Maupin

One other element that I’m critical off is the need to stylize the individuals in the video. The people in portraits were highly made up to the extent that they seem to represent stereotypes. This exaggeration reduces the gravitas that the work may otherwise carry. Perhaps by evoking stereotypes, the artist is reflecting on how mediated our lives are or that our lives are but a fiction.

Written by ricardo

January 13th, 2014 at 7:12 am