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Polly Nor: "Airing My Dirty Laundry in Public" Review - Protein Studios

11 October - 17 October

FREE entry


Artist and Instagram sensation Polly Nor opens her third solo exhibition, Airing My Dirty Laundry in Public– “public” meant quite literally, considering the open garage-like space that is the Protein Studios – to be viewed until the 17th of October. Nor’s body of work consists of illustrations, sketches,

sculpture and installation pieces, exploring the feminine experience in our age and everything that comes with it.

The pulsing house and techno songs in the background only complement the dream-like nature of Nor’s body of work. The illustrations portray surreal sceneries, and the 3D pieces are fantastical, absurd and witty. The themes explored in the show, however, are nothing short of the reality. In her pieces, Nor alludes to the chaotic nature of life, with noisy imageries of women and “their devil suits” standing against a monotone background. Nor’s distinctive depiction of women continue to show the viewers that the “devil within” is no longer hiding in the back.

“A Spanner in the Works”, a series of 39 illustrations, takes on a narrative approach, exploring toxic relationships, a phenomenon all too common. Telling the story of a woman struggling with a demon from the eyes of a friend, the theme feels far too relatable to anyone who has been in a toxic relationship, or anyone who has had a bad friend. The ideas portrayed in each illustration defines an aspect of the female, or human, experience through the use of symbolism. The symbols used in all the works seem to create a pattern and harmony throughout the exhibition. The repletion of symbols in different media, such as the ceramic sculptural representation of one of the images in the series, which also is a centrepiece showing sea worms scattered around a toilet - unusual, one might think -, create excitement for the viewers.

The two 9-piece series, titled “A Series of Nine” and “The Immaculate Conception”, also make up an important part of the exhibition. Experimenting with the ideas of femininity, the struggles it brings, and sexuality, the works hint at the society’s expectations of women and its effects. Around these two digitally-painted hand-drawn illustrations can be seen the sketches and notes that brought the whole exhibition about. These not only show the artistic process behind the works, but also offer insight into for the intricate concepts the artist tries to get across.

Right across from “Deep Cleanse” - an illustration of a laundry room packed with women, having shed their skins only to leave their true devil selves, each washing, ironing or altering their skins in a way – is a door with the sign on top that reads “Laundry, Repairs & Alterations”. With the machine sounds and the dim light, the installation is your typical laundry room, except for the latex human skins, rather than clothes hanging down the hangers. The installation is a criticism of society’s ideal standards of women, which for the most part seem to be concerned with physical features. Polly Nor, uses the idea of feeling the need to “fix” yourself to show the pressure put on women to become “perfect.”

The surreal nature of Polly Nor’s artistic style and the realities of the 21th-century female experience complement each other well. Encouraging the viewers to think about the struggles of womanhood, by drawing parallels between witty symbols and the harsh and dark realities that women face in their lives, the exhibition is intellectually stimulating and worthwhile.

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