Polly Borland’s Indescribably Creepy “Smudge” Photographs

Who’d have thought that a stocking could make a photo look so singularly creepy? London-based photographer Polly Borland’s ongoing series Smudge employs a series of strange costumes and incongruous props to distort the bodies of its subjects, creating images that are both evocative and disconcerting. They’re all the more disturbing as you never see the faces of the people you’re looking at — they’re hidden behind wigs or make-up smeared stockings or Clockwork Orange-style masks. There’s definitely something sexual about the images, but crucially, they’re never explicit — you get the sense that some strange fetish is being implied or evoked, but you’re never quite sure what it is, and maybe that’s for the best. Borland’s work is well known in her native Australia and her adopted home of London, and the first US showing of the photos from Smudge is happening now at Paul Kasmin gallery in NYC. Click through to see some of the images on show.

Image courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery