Polly’s current practice combines her technical and creative mastery of latex with expertise in immersive erotic performance and liberating experiences. Her interactive, large-scale, erotic latex sculptures invite the viewer to participate and explore pleasure. Notable projects include the Fuckball sculpture, a six-foot diameter inflatable ball covered in penetrable pink vulvas. The ball is hung from the ceiling and symbolizes feminine sexuality, however a playful sense of singular detachment calls into question the ball’s true meaning as it is, after all, an object. In a similar vein, the Pleasuredome sculpture is a place of entry. The spectator enters the inflatable latex dome through a doorway and sits on a vibrating seat. The occupant can be touched through gloves that penetrate the dome and when not in use, these same gloves flap and buzz about mischieviously as latex hands. A place of fantasy and erotic pleasure, this dome is a dedication to the beauty of sexual joy and imagination.
The artist notes that the process is essential to the development of every piece and begins with drawings, followed by small models that are eventually made to scale. She shares “The physical act of creating the shapes and lines at scale is vital and I allow myself to be flexible and explore or expand while the work is in progress.” As Polly’s work intersects fine art and performance it comes as no surprise that she is particularly interested in the work of Annie Sprinkle and has an affinity for alternative cultural movements such as the Situationists, Culture Jammers, Queer Art, and Punk.
I am motivated by the desire to create transformational experiences that remove the line between audience and artist, immersing everyone involved in a deeply personal yet shared adventure. Simultaneously taboo and intimate, sexuality powerfully and viscerally affects our consciousness and therefore provides the perfect context for such experiences.
By 2015, I had achieved many of my goals as a sex culture revolutionary. I had created a global network of communities, published a book, talked on panels, gave presentations, and was interviewed on NPR. Because I produced sex culture events for so long I became an “expert” on alternative sexuality. My path forward seemed clear, but I was disillusioned. I was tired of being asked to describe things that happen in the underbelly of sexual subculture and to explain the logistics of polyamory and kink. I felt no need to justify my community’s desires or appeal for mainstream cultural acceptance. Rather, I wanted to delve deeper into my work as a provocateur, and to continue to pose questions via direct encounter. How do you feel? Does this make you laugh? Does it disgust you? Do you think this is dirty? Do you feel shy? Does it make you sad? Are you triggered? Are you turned on? Or maybe all of these things at once?
Sex is so normal and human, yet it’s often seen as dirty and shameful in our culture. Our desires are sanitized and then sold back to us in heteronormative, racially homogenous advertising, featuring overtly sexualized and objectified bodies of women. Censorship on social media might feel new to some people as hatred and violence are finally being challenged on these platforms, but ask any sex worker, sex educator, or artist working in the realm of sexuality. They will tell you that censorship has always been active on social media. Sexuality is one facet of the human experience that is relentlessly censored.
My journey through forms of expression began with the more traditional modes of sculpture, painting, and printmaking followed by an exploration of the weird and subversive world of kinky fashion and performance art in London fetish clubs in the 1990s. In the first two decades of the twenty-first century, I mounted edgy, underground immersive events and dove deep into designing live interactive experiences.
More recently, I have returned to sculpture with Fuckball, a 6ft tall, colorful inflatable latex ball covered in vulvas. Work on the sculpture began before the pandemic but took on a new depth in the global crisis. If we can’t gather anymore, what does our sexual subculture look like? I started to imagine the future of post-pandemic sex culture and it poured out of me like a dystopian sex fantasy on acid.
The project The Fuckball and Other Works has three layers. There is a private event with no cameras, with no recording at all, in any way. Nobody will post images of the event on social media. A small pre-selected audience will share an explicit experience with the sculptures. Layer two is a deeper commentary on where culture places sexual value: I will be selling the idea of the sculptures’ virginity as NFTs. Buying the NFT won’t prevent us from fucking the sculptures, it won’t give you special access to the sculptures, but you will own the idea of their purity. The third layer is a traditional art show in a gallery to view the sculptures once they have been deflowered.
In my work, I give adults permission to play and to explore eroticism in creative and consensual ways, and in the process reframe preconceived ideas about sexuality, gender, and societal norms. Fine art is a language that allows me to present this serious critique in a whimsical, playful package for deeper dialog and exploration. I have always been an artist, but my return to fine art has spanned decades and is motivated by a desire to reach beyond the sexual subculture I have created.