City Paper is not for tourists
Los Angeles artist Alex Prager stages theatrical photos, often featuring distressed-looking women in wigs, casts of extras costumed in ’70s attire, and dramatic artificial light. Staged photography, of course, is nothing new, dating back to at least the late 1970s with Cindy Sherman and Jeff Wall. But unlike both of these artists, Prager typically mimics specific works by both filmmakers and fine-art photographers. She gives all of her source material—be it melodramas by German-born director Douglas Sirk or Mexican crime photography by Enrique Metinides—a strange, artificial gloss. Prager hints at obscure narratives and heightened emotional states, but never with any real context or consequences. It’s a specifically Californian kind of nowhere that Prager describes.