Polixeni Papapetrou's work addresses issues of personal identity. Using her young daughter Olympia as a model, Papapetrou creates a contemporary vision of childhood identity and role-play through the game of dress up.
In Phantomwise, Olympia is photographed wearing a variety of half masks which conceal her face from above the nose, but allow her mouth and ears to be revealed. Papapetrou is interested in the way her female child portrays herself and how she explores the boundaries of her body, gender, ethnicity and class through dress and performance before the camera. The project takes on Olympia's imaginative experimentation with roles, archetypes, and performance. In so doing, the work inevitably refers to the representation of children in art and society while also raising questions regarding the portrayal of the 'real' and the 'imaginary'.
Papapetrou extends these themes in two new series, DreamChild and Wonderland, by reworking the theatricality and vivid tableaux style of Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll). These large scale colour works are based on Carroll's photographs and illustrations that appear in his books "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass". Papapetrou's latest show at Stills Gallery in June 2004, Mystical Places, continues those two series.
In June and July of2003, DreamChild was shown at Photo + Graphic Gallery in New York, and at the Bendigo Art Gallery during August/September 2003. Her work is held in major public and private collections. Images from Phantomwise were exhibited in Photographica Australis at ARCO 2002 in Madrid. Photographica Australis was also shown at the Singapore Art Museum from August - November 2003, and represents Australia in the 11th Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh in 2004.