Polly Borland in Stockings

Polly Borland describes herself as an artist’s artist. It therefore is fitting that an eclectic collection of artistic Borland enthusiasts gathered this week to celebrate the launch of Borland’s latest series, “YOU,” at PK SHOP in Chelsea. Friends, supporters, and collaborators went to great lengths to ensure they did not miss the Australian artist’s New York moment. Liberty Ross, a beloved subject of Borland’s, flew in from Los Angeles. Jamie Bochard came straight from a flight from Paris. And Borland’s biggest fan, her husband, film director John Hillcoat, was by his wife’s side as he has been throughout her career—once, he even assisted her when she was granted five nerve-wracking minunets to photograph the Queen.

Best known for her unorthodox portraits of iconic figures—her series of Nick Cave in a bunny costume, for example—YOU is a less straightforward approach to Borland’s reoccurring themes of love and identity. “I’m very hooked in to surrealism and the art of the ’20s and the ’30s,” Borland explains. “I started to photograph sculptural forms, but in a very basic, sort of punk-rock way.” There is a DIY undercurrent to Borland’s work—in this case, nylon stockings are stuffed and arranged—but the resulting images are stunningly realized. It is these contrasting notions, coupled with the vague faces and figures that emerge from these images, that make them so powerful. “I love the way I feel when I look at her work,” says Jamie Bochert.

The stocking reoccurs in the images Borland took of Liberty Ross, also on view at PK SHOP. In this case, it is a full body stocking that even masks Ross’s stunning face. The haunting, shadowy images are stills inspired by a film about fetishism Ross and Borland conceptualized for Nick Knight’s Showstudio. “To me, when it came to thinking of fetish I didn’t want to do the obvious black rope and high heels,” Ross explains. “Polly is just an extraordinary woman,” Ross says. “To do our piece I had to be in this one-piece stocking and because a lot of it was shot in mirrors, she also put one on. She just really gets into it. There’s no one like Polly.”