21 Notes on the Cover Art of Sia Furler’s Album “1000 Forms of Fear”

Published by The Lifted Brow, July 2014. The full essay is here.Sia-1000-Forms-of-Fear-2014-1500x1500

1. The Hair is a star in space. It has been freed from the body to which it was once attached (Sia’s body?) and is now surrounded by blackness. The album cover depicts only The Hair and not The Face. The blackness looks like the blackness of outer space: not a flat black backdrop but a blackness created from depth, as if there is infinity behind The Hair and, presumably, beyond the borders of the album cover. The Hair is emitting a glow. Well, The Hair (Sia’s hair? A wig? I think it’s a wig) is reflecting the flash of a camera or some other light source, but it appears to be incandescent. The light emitted from The Hair is what gives depth to the blackness. Stars light up the dark.

2. Is Sia Furler a star? Is The Hair a celebrity? Can hair be celebrated? Yes.

3. Sia Furler was born in Adelaide on 18 December, 1978. The internet does not tell me the colour of her hair at the time of birth.

4. There are words under The Hair. The words appear to have been drawn quickly in pen, or scratched into the black cover with a sharp object. They read: SIA – 1000 FORMS OF FEAR. Just like that, with the em dash. Well, it’s quite short for an em dash. Maybe it’s an en dash. I doubt Sia would care for the distinction, but I might be wrong.

5. Except there is a face. It has been blacked out, removed in post-production. The outline of The Face (Sia’s face? I presume so) can be seen against The Hair. There’s the shape of a forehead, a cheek and a chin. And an eyelash. At least one eyelid of The Face is closed, leaving the silhouette of an eyelash against The Hair.

6. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Sia’s blinds are shut. Her soul cannot be seen. Only the roof of the house that bears the windows can be seen. Rooves hold little significance to the contents of a house. No one notices the roof of a house and thinks, ‘I bet a generous / interesting / happy person lives there.’ A roof is merely functional. But when was the last time you saw a roof without a house attached?

7. Things that can result in rooves without houses: cyclones, tornadoes, other storms and natural disasters, demolition crews, relocation crews that dismantle houses before moving them. That’s all I can think up, and each one of those is destructive. The roof always belonged to a house. No one asks, ‘What came first, the roof or the house?’ Houses are built from the ground up.

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