January
16th 2010
Saturday Valley of the Dolls blogging

Posted under: American history, art, childhood, Dolls, Gender, the body, women's history

"Deborah," Alex Prager, 2009

Over at The Daily Beast, Rachel Wolff informs us of two exhibitions of photographs by L.A.-based artist Alex Prager opening in both New York and L.A. this winter.  Check it out–and be sure to click through the gallery of Prager’s “living dolls.”  There are samples from two series by Prager–”Weekend” and “The Big Valley.”  (I thought the photos in ”The Big Valley” were more interesting.)  Wolff writes:

In many ways, Prager’s women—draped in faux fur, coolly smoking cigarettes—are metaphors for Los Angeles itself, which the artist has called “a strange picture of perfection… with a sense of unease under the surface of all this beauty and promise.” It’s an easy metaphor (and one we’ve seen before) but there is a certain allure to Prager’s images. They recall the roleplay and self-imposed artifice of Cindy Sherman’s film stills; they offer a user-friendly antidote to the sort of palpable grit embraced by other female artists living and working on the West Coast (Katy Grannan and the duo Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn among them); they’re pretty, private, and self-referential—the sort of thing you’d want to hang in a bedroom instead of over the couch—but nonetheless macabre, especially given the recent demise of pretty young things Brittany Murphy and Casey Johnson.

Wolff calls the images ”living dolls,” not because they’re perfect–far from it, in most cases.  Instead, they look to me like the cool embodiment of the various tortures, bad haircuts, and mutilations that most girls force their dolls to endure.  (This usually happens after early childhood, and is perhaps an expression of tween anxieties or ambivalence about the threats of adolescence or the burdens of adult womanhood.)  You remember doing it too.  Don’t you?  Anyway:  I’m envious of those of you who are or will be in New York or L.A. this winter.  I’m stuck in the Rockies, but don’t cry for me:

Bottoms up!

I almost can’t believe it myself, but tomorrow, I just might try to ski!

4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Saturday Valley of the Dolls blogging”

  1. Indyanna on 16 Jan 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    We used to stick a baseball card in the back spokes of a bike to get that faux-thentic “hot rod” sound, but that was about the extent of idol mutilation in my play group. For a slightly different L.A. photographic sensibility, try also the _All About Eve Babitz_ product line, and her various publications, now sadly rumored to be out of print. Nothing to ski on back here. (Don’t) break a leg!

  2. Vance Maverick on 16 Jan 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    The comparison to Sherman is instructive, isn’t it? Apart from formal qualities (and I think Sherman is more inventive), it makes a huge difference that we know, or more to the point believe, that the artist is the model.

  3. Shane in Utah on 16 Jan 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    Do it! Skiing is fun. Except when it’s not. I still really suck at it, and so far this season the snow isn’t cooperating. Weather.com is promising a storm this week, though. Fingers crossed…

  4. ej on 17 Jan 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Have fun on the slopes today. I’ve always thought the best part of skiing was the hot toddy and hot tub after!

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