Alex Prager is known for blurring the boundaries between viewer and performer. The LA-based artist’s latest film La Grande Sortie is currently showing at New York’s Lehmann Maupin.

The film, commissioned by Paris Opera Ballet’s online platform 3e Scène, enters the world of a prima ballerina on the opening night of her stage revival, following a mystery break. The dancer experiences stage fright, which is magnified by Prager’s turning of the camera both ways — we also see the crowd’s reaction, faces crammed one alongside the other, row after row, lit and clothed in a manner which ever-so-slightly eschews reality. At points, members of the audience join her on stage. The wider comment on anxiety, and our constant struggle to succeed and avoid embarrassment is universally relatable. 

The film is accompanied by a photo series which has a similarly unnerving effect, the viewer placed in the position of performer, gazing at rows of a variety of faces which are all open to interpretation: Are they bored? Judging? Should the performer even be focussing on them?

As with the majority of Prager’s work, this series crosses many lines, between watcher and watched, reality and fiction, exposed and concealed.

‘La Grande Sortie’ is showing until October 23 at Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street, New York

Alex Prager. Étoiles, 2016 archival pigment print 48 x 39.2 inches 121.9 x 99.6 cm Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong
Alex Prager. La Grande Sortie, 2015 6 archival pigment prints, single-channel video with color and sound on blue-ray disc and thumbdrive, storyboards dimensions of prints to be determined duration: 10 minutes Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong
Alex Prager. Orchestra Center (Stage), 2016 archival pigment print 52 x 48 inches 132.1 x 121.9 cm Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong
Alex Prager. La Grande Sortie Installation view, Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street, New York September 7 – October 23, 2016 Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong Photo: Max Yawney
Alex Prager. Orchestra East, Section B, 2016 archival pigment print 59 x 89.8 inches 149.9 x 228.1 cm Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong
Alex Prager. La Grande Sortie Installation view, Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street, New York September 7 – October 23, 2016 Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong Photo: Max Yawney
Alex Prager. La Grande Sortie Installation view, Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street, New York September 7 – October 23, 2016 Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong Photo: Max Yawney
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