One of the best things about viewing ‘Compulsion’ the new series of photos by Alex Prager at the Yancey Richardson Gallery are not the bizarre and cinematic photos but the short film that accompanies them, ‘La Petite Mort.’
Titled after the French term used to describe the female orgasm, the film is full of the phallic, transcendental and melancholic images that such a title would suggest.
Take this sequence for example.
A young girl stands in front an oncoming steam train. A pussy crosses her path (wink, wink) before the engine hits her and she is flung into deep water. She swims around in wonder and ecstasy before submerging from her dreamy state. As she breaks the surface a crowd of onlookers, possibly passengers from the stopped train, confronts her. They stare at our damsel, who has emerged miraculously unscathed and totally dry. She walks from the water into the crowd towards a handsome man in their midst. She walks onto land and faints before a handsome man.
The camera cranes and swirls away viewing the scene from a distance. Bunuel Hitchcock and David Lynch would be proud. Though I can imagine given a free reign to make a film, and with the right story to work off, she might create something completely unique.
Maybe one day we will refer to a film as Prager-ian or Prager-like.
I’ve also taken the liberty of making the film seem a little more narrative driven than it actually is. What you notice more is less a story, although the human mind will always want to create one whatever it is shown, but the beauty of the images.
This is particularly apostate when one of the themes of the show is the spectator and the whole act of looking.
Indeed many of the images in the show are accompanied by close-ups of human eyes, as if the artist is making a comment on us the ‘viewer’ and our relationship with what we see.
However, I don’t want to get into all that. All you need to know is her new set of images is strong and adds nicely to her work.
All that’s missing is the feature film.