Hello Funny Names Fans! For those of you who love the land down under, we are celebrating famed Australian photographer, Polixeni Papapetrou. Her name is pronounced poh-leek-SEE-nee pah-pah-PET-roo. I have been unable to verify if her father had a pet kangaroo.
Sorry folks, there were no public domain photos available, but you can check our her collection at her website, which includes a self portrait (hint, she’s the first photo on the top left of the collection).
Her parents, Andreas and Eftihiya (nee Xilinakis) Papapetrou, moved to Australia from Greece. Polixeni, a spring baby, was born in Melbourne, November 21, 1960. She always felt different from the other children she grew up with. The food her family ate, the way they looked and other traditions set them apart.
She studied law and art at Melbourne University, graduating in 1984. She started her career as a lawyer. She once said, “I worked as a corporate lawyer and really enjoyed this environment, but the desire to be an artist was stronger.”
Her photographs are whimsical and eerie. She started taking photographs of Elvis fans and impersonators. Eventually shifting to subcultures like body builders and cross dresser. She continued to study art after she became a full time artist, getting a masters degree in arts from RMIT University in Melbourne in 1997 and a Ph.D. at Monash University, also in Melbourne, in 2007.
She featured her children, Olympia and Solomon Nelson, and their friends in many of her collections. One series of photos recreated and explored the photos of Lewis Carroll’s photographs of Alice Liddell. Her series finished in 2016 called Eden featured Polixeni’s daughter and her friends from childhood to adulthood.
Her work was shown internationally. But as this is the Blog of Funny Names I must give a shout out to her series The Ghillies (a reference to a specific type of camouflage clothing) because it was featured in the 13th Dong Dong Gang International Photo Festival, South Korea. How many of us can say that?
Polixeni was once called out by former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, for a controversial magazine cover photo taken from one of her collections—created several years earlier—featuring her very young daughter in the nude. Polixeni’s then preteen daughter, Olympia, defended her mother stating it was one of her favorite photos.
Polixeni Papapetrou, a sometimes controversial photographer, passed at her home in Fitzroy, near Melbourne, Australia, on April 11, 2018.
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