In 2010, Sia unexpectedly cancelled all upcoming public appearances and performances due to illness. She later revealed to Twitter that she had been diagnosed with Graves' disease. Since then, the star -- who has worked with everyone from David Guetta to Kylie Minogue -- has remained largely out of the public eye.
It is this anonymity that made the release of 1000 Forms of Fear -- her first album in four years -- all the more anticipated. And at the apex of the anticipation was the release of the music video for "Chandelier," the first single off her new album. Would Sia appear in the video? Would this be the end of her retreat into privacy? And, if not, is possible to stay hidden in plain view?
Sia's not the first -- or by any means the most extreme -- case of an artist striving to remain out of the public eye. From Banksy to Thomas Pynchon, Sia follows a long line of anti-celebrities -- artists who share their work with the world, yet hide themselves from it. And we, as fans, observers, admirers, are unfailingly fascinated by them.
What is it about this type of choice that makes us so intrigued? As a culture, we view fame -- despite its well-known dark side -- in many ways as a pinnacle of an artist's career; artists across the world wish for their work to be recognized, popularized, appreciated by the masses. At first instinct, it seems that artists who choose to remain private are perhaps rejecting some of the most integral parts of fame. Is it selfish for them to want the name recognition and appreciation without having to submit to some of the less-glamorous consequences of being thrust into the public eye.
In popular culture, we like to tell ourselves that our fascination with anonymous artists is less so this explanation and more so a desire to connect with the individual behind the art. But can we really understand the artist better by looking at them than by looking at the art itself? I think for many artists, their answer would be no -- and, in fact, that may be their point entirely.
As Radio.com so perfectly put it, Sia hides in plain sight in her latest video. She is there in the art on the walls, in the decrepit scenery, and, perhaps most ironically, in the child reality star that dons a Sia-esque wig and dances to the beat of Sia's own drum.