Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs by Polly Borland from her Smudge series, curated by Danny Moynihan. Opening on September 22, 2011 at 511 W. 27th Street, this will be the artist’s first show with the gallery.
In this body of arresting portraits, Borland dresses and directs her models; manipulating their various costumes, makeup and body positioning to create her own visual language. With faces obscured by wigs, nylon hose and masks, her anonymous subjects are captured in moments of great openness and vulnerability.
Of his experience modeling for Borland, the musician Nick Cave writes, “I am struck by Polly’s deep love for her subjects and the dignity that exists in their dysmorphia. Because her pictures are never voyeuristic, never observational and never merely shocking. Rather, Polly seems to me to be shooting into a distorted mirror and simply bringing back heartbreaking refracted images of herself.”
Borland’s captivating, intimate portraits convey a keen sensitivity to her subjects. “It’s a long time that the camera has been bringing us news about zanies and pariahs, their miseries and their quirks. Showing the banality of the non-normal. Making voyeurs of us all…” writes Susan Sontag in her essay accompanying Borland’s The Babies catalogue, “…But this is particularly gifted, authoritative, intelligent work. Borland’s pictures seem very knowing, compassionate; and too close, too familiar, to suggest common or mere curiosity.”
Borland was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1959, and moved to the United Kingdom in 1989. She has recently relocated to Los Angeles. In the 1990s, she worked regularly for numerous UK and American publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Independent, and Dazed and Confused. In 1994, she won the prestigious John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award. Her work has been exhibited at South Bank’s Meltdown Festival in 1999; the National Portrait Gallery in London and in Australia in 2000. In 2008, her Bunny series was exhibited at the Michael Hoppen Gallery, London, and Murray White Room, Australia, and a book of the series was published by Other Criteria. Damien Hirst acquired the complete series for his MUDERME collection that same year. Her Smudge series was exhibited in Madrid and Australia in 2010, and at Other Criteria Bond Street in 2011, with a book published by Actar/Birkhauser. A retrospective of her work will be held at UQ in Australia in 2012.