In anticipation of the upcoming, guest-star filled fourth season of Portlandia on IFC, comedic duo Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen — the show’s creators and stars — have teamed up with famed photographer Alex Prager for a series of bustling shots that perfectly encapsulate the series. In true Portland fashion, the intersection of absurd and art finds these two smack dab in the middle of it all. Gosh, could these two be any better? No, we think not.
In fact, we're so convinced that the images are a masterstroke, we've decided to make it our life’s work to sway you to our side. We're obsessed. OB-SESSED — as if we needed more reasons to be excited about the upcoming season of Portlandia. But you, dear reader, may not be of the same ilk. So we've decided to sway you the only way the Internet knows how: through the magical power of lists.
- It’s a Mash-Up that Makes Sense: Considering Portlandia’s love of the absurd and surreal, the photos play up the brilliant convergence of art and comedy that is inherent in the heightened environment of the series.
- It Paints a Picture: Just like what Brownstein and Armisen accomplish on the series, these images take tiny details about the idiosyncratic place the show calls home and exaggerates them in order to accomplish the mutual goal of the series and Prager’s work: one that emphasizes the proximity and distance of this varied cross-section of life.
- It Creates a World: As Armisen and Brownstein accomplish with words and video, Prager’s images aren't just snapshots, they're positively cinematic, with movement and energy that jumps out at you. Like the Portlandia duo, Prager doesn’t just capture a moment, she creates an entire, vibrant existence, something both simple and incredibly complex (not to mention challenging and impressive as hell).
- They Elicited This Brilliant Insight from Armisen: "Right before I started SNL I always wanted to be Cindy Sherman. When I first started hearing about her and seeing her pictures I was like she is doing the best thing ever … I'll just say that Cindy Sherman is what I aspire to be."
- It’s SO Portland: I mean, come on: weird and whimsy? The town practically invented the stuff.
The two images feature aspects that have become hallmarks for Prager’s work. In particular her most recent series, “A Face in The Crowd.” Because of that, the bustling cacophony of folks roaming around perfectly encapsulates the weird and wacky wonderfulness of the series’ home/true star, Portland. In fact, the whole thing reads eerily similar to the goals and accomplishments of Portlandia’s comedic work, as evidenced by the exhibit’s description.
As Prager’s most ambitious and complex series to date, Face in the Crowd features large-scale photographs of people assembled in congested public spaces such as an airport terminal, lobby, beach, and movie theater. Blurring the line between fiction and reality, Prager directed the actions of hundreds of actors in costume on specially constructed sets. Densely detailed and shot from seemingly impossible vantage points, these scenes enact psychological narratives of private and public revelation, repulsion, fear, and the desire for basic human interaction and personal safety. The stories of various characters within these crowds culminate in a new film, featuring actress Elizabeth Banks.
Together, the film and the photographs uphold a portrait of the individual within the complexity of the larger crowd.
See? SO Portlandia. The series’ upcoming 4th season premieres on IFC Thursday, February 27th at 10PM.