Alex Prager's current show on the Lower East Side is compelling and charming and funny, but only for the viewer that makes the effort to see it all.
Prager’s show, "La Grande Sortie", takes up the first and second floor of the gallery. The first floor has 10 large photographs depicting a small, mostly white, half-interested audience. The large photographs are technically well done, but a casual observer might have difficultly finding anything interesting within them. The audience depicted seems to be intentionally composed of people who are not particularly special. The photographs are single frame depictions of Prager’s film that confronts the the dual perspectives of performer and audience. This is nearly impossible to glean unless the viewer climbs to the second floor.
Up the stairs, hidden behind a heavy black curtain, is the work that is the heart of this show: a short film commissioned by the Paris Opera Ballet, "La Grande Sortie." The ten minute video tells the story of a ballerina’s performance on opening night. Her dance is hampered by stage fright. The real or imagined indifferent and hostile reactions of the audience only intensifies the fears of the dancer on the stage. The tempo of the classical music and the feeling of dread increases as the ballerina begins magically dancing with members of her unimpressed audience. Concluding with a vanishing act, The ballerina disappears in a cloud of smoke, the film elegantly speaks to the universal sense of anxiety that many people battle daily. Once viewed, the first floor’s photographs transform from dull to poignant. The show leaves the viewer with a sense of compassion and empathy for the internal struggles others face.