Video: Polixeni Papapetrou
Australian artist Polixeni Papapetrou has gained international recognition for her thoughtful photographs that contemplate the childhood imagination. For over a decade she has been engaged in an intimate photographic collaboration with her children and their friends. As they have grown and transformed so too have the roles they perform and spaces they inhabit intersecting with the boundaries of time, history and contemporary culture.
Her photographs are a powerful testament to how childhood relates to the adult world: they speak both directly and metaphorically about childhood, adolescence and identity and how children might reconcile their inner world with the social demands of the outer world during this phase.
Papapetrou engages part reality, part fantasy moving through the mysterious landscape of her home country, using the rich terrain as a backdrop for narratives about the transitional space of childhood. It is the awkward evolution of youth that informs the in‐between spaces she creates in series such as Between Worlds, The Dreamkeepers and The Ghillies. In unreal theatrical guises, the children emerge enigmatically; they are present but their child identity recedes: new archetypes emerge as apparitions that speak to us about transformation and self-realizing periods in our lives.
The disguises, masks and outfits worn by the characters in these pictures change young bodies into old, children into animals or into anthropomorphic figures. These figures arouse a gentle pathos, reminding us of our own shape shifting, of time playing out on our bodies and minds. The abstract meeting of these two forms, inner child and outer presence may indicate the latent wisdom and self-acceptance only realized with maturity, or the cyclical nature of our life spans that inevitably brings us back to the vulnerability and freedom of youth.
Artist: Polixeni Papapetrou
Polixeni Papapetrou is a Melbourne based artist. Her work, she explores the
relationship between history, contemporary culture and identity. Papapetrou
has photographed Elvis Presley fans, Marilyn Monroe impersonators, drag
queens and body builders. In recent years, she has focused her attention to
the subject matter of childhood.
Bio, videos and exhibitions