Polixeni Papapetrou was born in Melbourne, Australia where she currently lives and works. She is a photographic artist who explores the relationship between history, contemporary culture and identity. Her interest in dress-ups and the performance of identity is a consistent presence in her work. In 2002, Papapetrou turned her focus to the subject matter of childhood. The main protagonists in her work have been her two children, Olympia and Solomon as well as their friends.
In her most recent series Between Worlds 2009, Papapetrou explores the magical affinity that children have with animals. What separates humans from animals and children from adults? The child subjects wear animal masks and perform dramas in Australian landscapes that appear to be the edge of a space or the end of an epoch. Although the children appear as something we immediately recognize, they have been fantastically hybridized, losing their child persona and adopting the identities of the mask.
Papapetrou presents the children as animals because she sees parallels in their worlds. Animals enter our consciousness in mysterious ways and we look at them in order to understand ourselves and our emotional realm. For most of the history of philosophy, it is what we don’t share with animals that defines us as human.
Through games of dress up and play, the children blur the lines between fantasy/theatre, mythology/reality, child/adult and animal/ human. By creating hybrids and blurring the lines of reality, Papapetrou creates ambiguity around the space that children occupy in our cultural understanding. Within these ambiguities, she explores how children are imagined and how they might bestride the stage of art.