Not Good at Human

Borland wants things to be difficult to look at – her photographs are contradictorily beautiful and disturbing – reminiscent of traditional portraiture with a nod to the surreal. Borland’s work displays a fascination with people, exploring private questions of identity from the inside out, and turning her lens on the complex and ineffable. Experiencing these images is at once deeply engaging and somewhat repelling, it’s as though Borland has ex- posed our deepest self-doubts for all to see. This series was initially a project with her teenage son Louie, after moving to LA. Borland says:

‘Louie was 13 when we started making the photographs two years ago, and I thought we’d continue until he was 18. Then we would go through all the photos and let him work out which photos were ok for a book. Eventually I realised that there was a show in that body of work. For this exhibition I’ve done a lot of experimentation – there are tapestries, lenticular prints, collages and an image that I’ve drawn on as well as a number of photographs. All of the works are portraits of Louie - but like many of my past series, the subject is more or less unrecognisable. I also started seeing similarities between photos I had taken of Louie, and photos I had taken for the series Bunny [2008]. So I started combining photos of Gwen [from the Bunny series] with some of the photos of Louie – for the show these became 3 lenticular prints.’


Not Good at Human is Borland’s first solo gallery show in Sydney. In 2013 she was included in We used to talk about love, Balnaves contemporary: photomedia, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney. Borland is current included in Human Condition, in The former Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center, LA. A survey show of Polly’s work was held at the University of Queensland Art Museum. Polly Borland: Everything I want to be when I grow up, 2012. Recent solo exhibitions include You, Murray White Room, Melbourne, 2014; Wonky, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2014; Pupa, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, 2013; and Polly Borland: Australians, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2000.

Before focusing on art projects, Borland shot regularly for numerous UK and US 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 appeared in numerous exhibitions and a selection of photo- graphs from a previous body of work, The Babies was exhibited at the Southbank’s Meltdown Festival in 1999, curated by Nick Cave. In 2000 The National Portrait Galleries in London and Canberra exhibited Australians, a major commissioned solo exhibition. Powerhouse published her first book The Babies in 2001 with an essay by the late Susan Sontag. In that same year Borland was one of eight photographers selected to photograph Queen Elizabeth II for the Golden Jubilee.

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