Art By Jeff Musser
“French actress Judith Godrèche’s Hitchcockian heroine faces an imminent tragic demise in these ominous scenes from Alex Prager’s La Petite Mort, a surreal exploration of sexual ecstasy and mortality. “They say that orgasm is the one time in life you are closest to death because all your senses but one shut down. I really liked that poetic way of describing it,” explains Los Angeles-based Prager. Referring to the morbid impulse to treat tragedy as a spectator sport [Prager] interrogates the viewer’s passive complicity with pictures that mix extreme close-ups of melodramatic eyes with cinematic tableaux reflecting media coverage of natural disasters and premeditated violence. Says Prager: “I did not want to draw from specific events, but it was a way for me to deal with the hopelessness I was feeling about the world. Creating a parallel universe where tragedies happen but with a sense of lightness as well.””
“Suspended Together” is an installation that gives the impression of movement and freedom. However, a closer look at the 200 doves allows the viewer to realize that the doves are actually frozen and suspended with no hope of flight. An even closer look shows that each dove carries on its body a permission document that allows a Saudi woman to travel. Notwithstanding their circumstances, all Saudi women are required to have this document, issued by their appointed male guardian.
The artist reached out to a large group of leading women from Saudi Arabia to donate their permission documents for inclusion in this artwork. “Suspended Together” carries the documents of award-winning scientists, educators, journalists, engineers, artists and leaders with groundbreaking achievements that gave back to their society. The youngest contributor is six months old and the oldest is 60 years old. In the artist’s words, “regardless of age and achievement, when it comes to travel, all these women are treated like a flock of suspended doves.” Manal Dowayan