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.
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.