Lehmann Maupin presents Part Two: Run, an exhibition of work by Los Angeles-based artist Alex Prager, marking the debut of Prager’s ambitious new film, Run and featuring a selection of new photographs and sculptures. 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.
Across her practice, Prager crafts rich, often ambiguous narratives that examine the cultural mythologies and archetypes that shape collective existence. As she deploys and deconstructs artistic and narrative conventions, Prager explores how both our senses of self and our engagement with others are often mediated by familiar stories and tropes. 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.
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.
The New York exhibition presents Run in dialogue with photographs and sculptures that further complicate and enrich the film’s fundamental concerns. Prager’s photographic work Sleep (2022) shows the intricately staged mass of people from Run, as they momentarily lay on the ground, after each colliding with the accelerating mirrored ball. Sleep humorously deconstructs the conventions of the film still, and Prager unveils the absurdist potential of suspending a single moment in time. Dramatizing the scene’s ambiguities, the work offers a narrative with a multitude of possible conclusions. 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.