Polly Borland, The Babies and Tapestries

Polly Borland, Julianne in bath at home, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 40 x 60 in

Los AngelesArt & Culture

Polly Borland, The Babies and Tapestries

Polly Borland's disquieting document of grown-up babies is as difficult to view as it is utterly compelling...

Known throughout Europe for her iconic 2001 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, as well as a longtime collaboration with musician Nick Cave (who she has been documenting for 35 years), Melbourne-born, US-based visual artist and photographer Polly Borland is presenting her first solo exhibition in Los Angeles; at the sprawling city’s MIER Gallery.

Polly Borland, The Babies and Tapestries at MIER Gallery Los Angeles

Julianne at home, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 26.6 x 40 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Set over two spaces at the contemporary gallery, the exhibition comprises two startling series of work: firstly, and most notably, Borland’s powerful photographic study The Babies, an unforgettable insight into a little-seen world. Secondly, a collection of hand-knitted interpretations of that portrait of our ‘Liz — woven by those staying at Her Majesty’s pleasure; prisoners involved in an art rehabilitation program in the UK.

Demonstrating an unrivalled eye for contemporary portraiture and an ability to unsettle via the inner subjectivity of her audience, Borland’s ‘babies’ are the result of the artist exploring the world of infantalists–adults who role-play as infants. Unsettling due to their lack of sexual reference, the images — originally shot for a body of work curated by Cave in 1999, and the subject of a powerHouse Books publication in 2000 — her subjects are captured wearing diapers, sporting dummies, donning oversized baby frocks, and wheeling each other around in prams.

It’s a disquieting collection that is as difficult to view as it is compelling. ‘They invite our identification … ‘ begins the late intellectual Susan Sontag in her foreword for the original book, ‘daring us to admit that we too can imagine such feelings, even if we are astonished that some people actually go to the trouble, and assume the shame, of acting them out.’

The first time the series have been released in their entirety, The Babies is joined by a second body of work in Gallery Two: Tapestries, hand-stitched by inmates of Her Majesty’s Prison Service; another collection informed by people who exist on the periphery of society. Polly Borland’s double exhibition can be seen at Los Angeles’s Mier Gallery until 17 August.

@ninomiergallery

Polly Borland, The Babies and Tapestries at MIER Gallery Los Angeles

Julianne in bath at home, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 40 x 60 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Polly Borland, The Babies and Tapestries at MIER Gallery Los Angeles

Julianne at home, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 26.6 x 40 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Polly Borland Babies at MIER Gallery Los Angeles
Julianne at Mummy Hazel's, 1994-1999

Julianne at Mummy Hazel’s, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 6 x 9 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Cathy at Mummy Hazel's, 1994-1999

Cathy at Mummy Hazel’s, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 6 x 9 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Polly Borland Babies at MIER Gallery Los Angeles

Roberta in Mummy Hazel’s garden, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 26.6 x 40 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Cathy at Mummy Hazel's, 1994-1999

Cathy at Mummy Hazel’s, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 40 x 26.6 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Violet Blue at Tommy's House, 1994-1999

Violet Blue at Tommy’s House, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 26.6 x 40 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Polly Borland Babies at MIER Gallery Los Angeles: Daisy wrestling at lil' kathi's party, 1994-1999

Daisy wrestling at lil’ kathi’s party, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 26.6 x 40 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Snuggles, Julianne, Mummy Hazel, and Cathy in the street, 1994-1999

Snuggles, Julianne, Mummy Hazel, and Cathy in the street, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 26.6 x 40 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Cathy at Mummy Hazel's, 1994-1999

Cathy at Mummy Hazel’s, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 10.7 x 16 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Polly Borland Babies at MIER Gallery Los Angeles: Paul at Daddy's house, 1994-1999

Paul at Daddy’s house, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 26.6 x 40 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Daisy at Tommy's house, San Francisco, California, 1994-1999

Daisy at Tommy’s house, San Francisco, California, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 6 x 9 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Julianne at Mummy Hazel's, 1994-1999

Julianne at Mummy Hazel’s, 1994-1999
Archival pigment print 6 x 9 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

Polly Borland Babies at MIER Gallery Los Angeles
The Queen (Mr. Stewart), 2017

The Queen (Mr. Stewart), 2017,
Hand stitched wool tapestry, 12 x 10 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

The Queen (Mr. Hawkins), 2017

The Queen (Mr. Hawkins), 2017,
Hand stitched wool tapestry, 12 x 10 in
Courtesy of the artist and MIER Gallery.

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