Airing My dirty laundry in public
– Polly Nor
In a social media driven modern age, for everything shown there is always something hidden. Say hello to Polly Nor, the London born-and-bred artist who lets the Instagram-perfect mask slip to reject the repression of what makes us human – (ironically) our “demons”.
Despite this, Nor is known for the popularity of her Instagram gallery – where she has a rather cult-like following. After studying illustration at university Nor spends her time in her studio and has a myriad of work to show for it. Her style is immediately recognisable, using a motif that can only be described as beautifully grim: Nor visualises the truth behind the facade that women must always be on fleek and manifests the anxieties of the modern woman into a literal devil lurking under the skin. In her efforts to explore the feminine experience, Nor uses explicit and raw images of women moping around in dirty rooms, having a cigarette while masturbating and casually having a social media binge in just their pants to contrast the weight of social pressures to be perfect that is plunged onto the shoulders of women.
Returning for the second time to Protein Studios, she brought her work to the streets of Shoreditch this month with her exhibition ‘Airing My Dirty Laundry in Public’– for a limited time. In a pretty unsuspecting pop up gallery Nor practically visualised Kristeva’s idea of the abject: shining a light on the fine margins between meaning and being, what we choose to show and what we repress in everyday life. With a series of 39 unseen illustrations, line drawings, animation and an interactive installation the exhibition fully immersed its viewer into the defilement and demons that our skin-shells try to withstand.
Each piece experiments with the complicated relationship between women and their sexuality, their body, mental health, and social media presence. Reimagining the world through surrealist lens, she uses such works as the never-been-seen-before 39-part series (a continuation of her ‘You Don’t Know Him Like I Do’ story she released on her Instagram) to tell a story that, for a large majority, is all too real. Through this illustrated narrative Nor exposes to the world the entrapment of damaging relationships which you would jump off a cliff for only to nearly drown and need saving. However, the heroine succeeds in the tale and is pulled out a toilet, a metaphor for the sh*t that such relationships can smother us in and is able to rewrite her demons to work to express herself.
The installation room, the most Instagramed piece in there, is also a tool that Nor used to explore the pressures of a 21st century woman. Nor’s laundry room titled ‘Laundry, Repairs and Alterations’ looked at the effect of the pressure to be perfect with a hand full of salt, poking fun at blue prints of female beauty and frilly knickers cross-contaminated with the horror of pulled teeth, loose finger-nails and peeled latex skin. The entire room reframes what it means to be “flawless” and the cost that comes with needing to fix ourselves in order to become a “better” version of who we are. In the same way she draws, Nor recreated the world through her own lens making it both fantastical and realistic even down to the finest details– with bubbling washing troughs and boxes of Daz.
Throughout the whole exhibition it was clear Polly’s yearlong break from exhibiting paid off, offering her audience with a range of well-loved pieces, sculptures and some insight into her creative process with her rough line-drawings. The exhibition, and her work, invited its viewer to embrace, fight, nurture or even make love to our demons. And with her iconic devil imagery an unavoidable feature, you can forget Elvis it’s Polly Nor who’s telling us that we are all devils in disguise.
Submission with thanks to Aimee Williams-Maynard
More at https://www.pollynor.com/