Polly Borland’s x-ray vision

Untitled (Nick Cave in a blue wig) | Polly BORLAND | NGV © Polly Borland
Book cover, The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave, Image Polly Borland, Text Publishing, 2009
Polly Borland, Untitled III, 2010. From the series Smudge. Chromogenic print, 147.5 x 122cm. Courtesy the artist and Murray White Room, Melbourne. © Polly Borland.

Inside my Gimp Suit I would feel my jaw tensing up and jutting out in a parody of aggression, and my fingernails left red marks on my palms. At other times my wrists were limp and my mouth slack. There was a freedom to being covered up and sightless … However, because of the sheer volume of cushion stuffing, these details were invisible, and I never spoke to Borland about it.

Growing up in a chaotic household with six siblings and struggling parents, Borland says she was very fearful as a child and tried to make sense of the world through what she could see. “I’m highly visual and things fascinated me, things I loved. I’d find patterns in curtains, fabric, everywhere I’d be looking for the visual feast,” she says. “In contradiction to my emotional state … because I was so hypersensitive I used the visual to deal with, or maybe not deal with, this emotional overload that I was constantly feeling.”

Polly Borland, MORPH 7 2018, archival pigment print, 201 x 160 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Murray White Room, Melbourne © Polly Borland
Polly Borland — Polyverse. National Gallery of Victoria, 2019. © Polly Borland

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Kirsten Krauth

Kirsten Krauth

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Author. Arts journalist. Latest novel ALMOST A MIRROR shortlisted Penguin Literary Prize, out April. Recent profiles Ben Folds, Sian Clifford. kirstenkrauth.com