November 15, 2010  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Alex Prager in New Photography 2010

Taking her cues from the films of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, and Douglas Sirk, as well as from the staged photographs of Cindy Sherman and Guy Bourdin, Alex Prager’s pictures focus on cinematic images and mise-en-scène. Sharing personal anecdotes about her life and work, Prager tells us in the video interview above how she came to take her first photographs and make her debut film Despair (2010), which has its U.S. premiere in the New Photography 2010 exhibition.

Alex Prager. Despair, Film Still #1. 2010. Chromogenic color print. Courtesy the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York © 2010 Alex Prager

In organizing this year’s New Photography exhibition, I was interested in bringing together a group of artists who have expanded the conventional definitions of the medium. Looking back, seventy-four artists representing distinct approaches—from Judith Joy Ross, Michael Schmidt, Philip Lorca diCorcia, An My-Lê, and Thomas Demand to Rachel Harrison, Rineke Dijkstra, Robin Rhode, and Sara VanDerBeek, to name a few—have been presented so far in this annual forum at MoMA.

A few years ago the critic Philip Gefter wrote in The New York Times that if we were to compile a catalogue of the works included in this exhibition series, we would probably end up with a shorthand history of contemporary photography. I like to pay critical attention both to artists working exclusively with photography and to photography’s uses by artists working primarily in other mediums. This is why I am attuned to the integration of photography with sculpture, video, and film. This year, I included short films by Prager and Elad Lassry, the first films to appear in a New Photography exhibition. In recent years, with the increasing turn toward the digital, the medium has become more complex and varied in its range of possible representational renderings. Photography is at a transformative point and we are aiming to be responsive to these changes.


great interview Thanks!

Whether professionally trained or not, an artist should have an idea of what they’re doing and where they are going. It’s neither cute nor interesting to stumble around creatively with nothing to say to your audience. While the work is technically acceptable the thought process behind it is derivative and lacking in depth. It’s too bad since the artist is riffing on talented, groundbreaking filmmakers who did all of her work for her.

This interview is an embarrassment for MoMA. This so called artist may have the ability to produce work, but has absolutely no idea why or how or what she is doing. Maybe Prager is undeveloped as a photographer and in years she will become more articulate. However, it is the Museum of Modern Art’s responsibility in picking five or six photographers to represent this medium to reassess what they are presenting to their audience. The lack of depth, education and understanding in this is a tragedy. Please rethink what is selected to represent this institution.

Isn’t this a homage to cindy sherman? How is this new photography? Maybe it’s new from the perspective of the commercial trendy magazine world which is where I would expect to find this work.

sometimes it is better not to know anything about the artist or what they think.

I find this story interesting… her photos are aesthetically pleasing and seem compositionally correct. As for artistic intentions, she attempt to express ( as many artists do ) emotions through images. So what if she doesn’t have a MFA, maybe that’s a good thing… less academic inhibitions !

MoMa has the ability to showcase the work of artists in transition as well as renowned artist. Let us remember that nothing is new under the sun, we all learn from others.Let us examine the exposed and gently ponder and steep these fascinating ideas, beofre we scream and re-arrange and judge. Those of us who risk learning risk being judged. Those of us who make the effort to dream and create new combinations of ideas open the windows of ALL of our souls, so that we all can dare to dream and we can drift out into the universe and experience the novel (to us) ourselves. Sharing ideas is daring. Thank God for the courage to dare.Now, we ask MoMa to dare to bring us new artists, let us be grateful and ponder, and then let us dialogue with care and wonder and share our questions with one another in intellectual and emotional awe, as we too dare to experiment and enrich our own journey.

I appreciate Moma bringing us new artists but I can’t say it isn’t disappointing to hear such empty explanations about one’s work. I agree you don’t need an MFA to be an artist but an education would at least have helped this artist learn how to be articulate when expressing herself. I liked the work more before I heard the artist essentially confirm how empty and pointless it is. Sad.

Some artist’s simply don’t have the capability for proper articulation. For me it doesn’t signify someone who is less talented or less of an artist. Besides, we’re talking about someone who is VERY young. She will have time to improve. I quite like the photographs, no matter what the intentions were.

What’s wrong with starting from an emotion? The critics here have become so cerebral it’s ridiculous. The expressionists began from emotions and didn’t see anything wrong with that basis. And I agree with the comment about academic inhibitions. These days some artspeak sound sometimes more like jargonistic machines sprouting accepted theory than original thinkers, even their delivery is cold. The whole scene is chilling. Here’s a warm flesh and blood individual, who is not afraid to smile, who’s driven to find her message in images and obviously communicating that way! If she could put it all in words she’d be writing an essay! And, I seem to recall in art history there were whole schools and genres with remarkable similarity. I have a horrid suspicion that if this woman did not have blonde hair and had not put her work in hairdresser shops, had dark hair, was not photogenic and spoke in the more rigid flat art cognoscenti mould then the critics above would hesitate. “Proper articulation” is someone else’s straight jacket as far as I’m concerned, what about the artist of few words. The Crowd Scene resonated with me, that’s what matters, and she’s dabbling in that film noir genre; but she obviously doesn’t want those boundaries that some want her to conform to. I love that fact she exhibits in hairdresser salons, those people are also artists with hair; it all fits! Good on you MoMA for daring to break the mould!

what if she dare not to be…, who have quite intention for their work, complex, obsession, and those interrupt and block their way for growing up, seeing things, freedom, happiness.

“there is no intention for this work” isn’t equal as artist does not think anything.
there are so many words, theories, logics going on in this outside world. and if we can it is not necessary to have such things. it is not necessary to live our life along with such things.


i think about work that is attempted to be removed anything extra, and living room, property that is attempted to be removed anything extra.

and it is under intention. probably some people like to have minimum property. but it is not necessary for everyone to do, we can be unconscious and not care about what we own, and can have “extra” thing. and do we really know what is “essential”?

we don’t need to be stuck with this “essential”.

also i think people have fear for loosing. and some would like not to have thing to start with rather than loosing.

but as long as we live life, we must to encounter things and leave.

we can’t wholly organize our life, things come unexpectedly.

or i hope life is not explainable.

I am very much a fan of Prager’s work. Just because she doesn’t use words like transmogrify doesn’t mean her work is any less valid. I would also be willing to wager that other celebrated contemporary artists have been hard pressed to define their intent and vision at the age of 31. It is also entirely reasonable to think that as she progresses and creates more work, her motivation and inspiration may come from a more cerebral rather than emotive place and at that point perhaps she will be able to tell you how to interpret her work. Until then, figure it out on your own.

I liked everything about this webpage, from the interview, to the artist Prager. Not everything has to sound like it was inspired by Immanuel Kant to be considered art.

Derivative, shallow, hollow. Can’t wait for her 15 minutes to be up.

As an artist in the visual medium of photography, I have always felt that art was about what it looked like…not what it sounded like. I enjoyed some of her work.

Initially I was very attracted to Prager’s work as many viewers are. (I still am I suppose). This interview, however, is disappointing for all reasons mentioned. It’s glorified fashion photography. I have little doubt that the majority of her “inspiration” came from photo spreads in Vogue magazine. Prager’s photos are shockingly similar to the shoots that Vogue began doing in 2006….many shot by fashion photographer Miles Aldridge. They are nearly identical in style!
This is not to say I do not enjoy this type of photography- I do. I find it absolutely enticing! But I would like to see something more than fashion photography from Moma – for this institution to call Prager an artist of the new is absurd.

I agree that this work is immature and derivative, but there’s no need for an artist to be articulate about their work. Imagery is her language, not words. With that said, it’s annoying how she goes on about eggleston, brassai, godard, radiohead, when obviously madonna, steven meisel, david lachapelle etc. had way more influence on her style.

lol at all the haters. blah blah thats not art … thats an embarrassment … cant wait for 15 minutes to be up … and so forth.

keep on waiting + keep on hating. oh and please do send links to your own work & interviews … for more laughs

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