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More about Cell XXVI

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Louise Bourgeois’ Cell XXVI immediately brings to mind Sia’s controversial Elastic Heart video.

Let’s be real, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Shia LaBeouf had taken up residence inside the biomorphic floating form in the metal cage. If we look carefully, we can see that it’s not Shia but there are other similarities between Bourgeois’ artwork and Sia’s music video.

Trauma and emotional distress both play key roles in the two artists’ works. From complicated relationships with their fathers to near suicidal attempts, both have their fair share of emotional baggage weighing heavy in their art. Bourgeois’ father was prone to fits of rage and had a “dominating” demeanor in the household. Louise might have most hated him for engaging in affairs while married to her beloved mother. In one of her later works, she depicts a family taking revenge on the father. In an interview, Sia also confessed her relationship with her father was emotionally distressing. She reveals that he had “multiple personalities,” one pleasant and wonderful, while the other turned things “scary.” Sia’s troubles however, also stemmed from her troubles with grave’s disease and her dislike for being in the public eye.

Both artists feature aspects of psychoanalysis in their artwork. Sia in her apology for the controversial "Elastic Heart" video explains that Shia and Maddie Ziegler were playing “two warring Sia self states.” While Sia’s video deals with the pain in conflicting self-states, Louise Bourgeois’ work deals with the pains of the feminine being. Locked in the metal cell is a figure hanging as if in display reflected in front of a giant mirror. The figure is reflected in a knot of limbs and legs. This idea of reflection is also in Sia’s video in a totally trippy sense. Shia and Maddie reflect each other as self-states of Sia, ultimately reflecting Sia. All of these similarities suggest perhaps Sia was inspired by Louise Bourgeois for her video. It wouldn’t be the first time art has inspired pop culture.




  1. Elliot, Marguerite, “Louise Bourgeois,” Sartle, Accessed: November 22, 2017.
  2. Knopper, Steve, “Sia Furler, the Socially Phobic Pop Star,” New York Times, April 18, 2014.
  3. McNay, Michael, “Louise Bourgeois Obituary,” The Guardian, May 31, 2010, 2017.
  4. Moskovitch, Greg, “10 Things We Learned From Sia’s Howard Stern Interview,” June 19, 2014.
  5. Tseng, Zing, “Sia apologises for ‘triggering’ ‘Elastic Heart’ music video,” Dazed, January 8, 2015.