Image by Alex Prager shows a photograph of the character Cecily, who has blonde hair and is wearing a pink dress with a puffy torso and sleeves, stood against a bright blue sky backdrop

Artist Alex Prager has one word for us: Run!

The artist’s new exhibition brings together film, photography, and sculpture in a multifaceted exploration of human perseverance

Alex Prager’s new exhibition, Part Two: Run, is the concluding chapter of her investigation into social upheaval and humans’ response to it, which began with her exhibition Part One: The Mountain that debuted this time last year.

The exhibition’s name stems from its central component – a short film called Run, which is in turn named after a song by Ellen Reid, who features on the soundtrack along with Phillip Glass. The film illustrates Prager’s penchant for toying with archetypes, a defining feature in last year’s instalment of the project, which also came with a film element. A few of the characters seen in the last chapter reappear this time around too – the bushy-eyebrowed Bruce, for example.

Image by Alex Prager shows a close crop of a portrait photograph of someone's eye area, who appears to be wearing dark stick-on eyebrows
Top image: Cecily, 2022; Above: The General, 2022; All images courtesy Alex Prager Studio and Lehmann Maupin

Whereas the previous film features a series of interviews with cast members in character, Run is decidedly more action-packed. The film opens with a group of people slowly rolling a large mirrored sphere onto an otherwise average street on an average day. The introduction comes alive with the sounds of choral chants announcing the film’s name – a haunting touch that carries through the film, which playfully leans on the surreal horror canon. The mysterious sphere is activated when a suburbanite puts a coin in a machine, setting the ball on its course through the streets.

“The Mountain was purely exploring the emotional states of being in a situation that’s so extreme,” Prager told WePresent recently. “Run explores the mechanics that got us there.”

Image by Alex Prager shot from below, featuring one person on the left wearing a floral button-up dress and a bob, next to another person carrying a plastic drink and straw, with a bird flying between them overhead
Claire and Frances, 2022

The exhibition brings together complementary works made in other mediums, including Ball, a mirror sculpture inspired by the film’s central object, in which visitors’ own reflections immerse them in the scene. Photographs drawn from the film are also in the show, including Cecily, which shows the protagonist (played by Katherine Waterston) wearing a sorrowful expression that seems at odds with her sugary outfit.

Another work, called Sleep, is an unsettling composition showing people lying on the ground in a suburban street, as though an apocalypse has swept through a flash mob – a symbol of Prager’s uncanny blend of the sickly and the sinister.

Image by Alex Prager shows a suburban street covered with people's bodies lying on the ground, spaced apart at equal distance
Sleep, 2022
Image by Alex Prager shows a close crop photograph of a person's face wearing red lipstick and gazing upwards
Glory, 2022
Image by Alex Prager shows the silhouette of a person's head with short coiffed hair and bare shoulders against a dusky blue backdrop
Eclipse, 2021

Part Two: Run by Alex Prager is on show at Lehmann Maupin New York until March 4;