Polixeni Papapetrou: Stories from the Other Side
Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York
April 4 – June 1, 2013
521 W 26th St # 5 New York
+1 212-629-0707

This solo exhibition of photographs by Polixeni Papapetrou features two of Papapetrou’s most recently completed series, The Ghillies and Between Worlds.

Australian photographer Papapetrou creates darkly whimsical images that grapple with conceptual definitions of childhood, both historically and in contemporary society. Addressing what it means to be a child, Papapetrou uses her work to argue that the institution of childhood is an adult construct created to satisfy roles in society. Like Bill Henson and Sally Mann, Papapetrou encountered controversy when a 2003 photograph of her nude six-year-old daughter, Olympia, entitled Olympia as Lewis Carroll’s Beatrice Hatch Before White Cliffs, graced the cover of Art Monthly Australia. Complaints of child pornography and violations of child protection legislation followed, and Papapetrou began photographing children wearing masks or with their faces obscured as a way to remove the childhood identity and add an element of layering to the figures. Papapetrou is also inspired by the spectacle of dress-up and performance that appeared in 19th century French and English tableaux photography, so she looks to photographers like Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, and Clementina Lady Hawarden. She finds further inspiration in the work of photographers, like Diane Arbus, Roger Ballen, Richard Billingham, Martin Parr, and Nan Goldin, who portray the everyday world around them and in doing so reveal a secluded inner world. Papapetrou’s work is often compared to that of Cindy Sherman for her presentation of such a varied array of characters and personalities.