Polixeni Papapetrou

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.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

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About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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9 Responses to Polixeni Papapetrou

  1. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    It’s all Greek today. This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names.

  2. kerbey says:

    The Greeks never let us down with polysyllabic alliterative names. I enjoyed the Elvis pics; the Ghillies not so much. I can’t fathom how exhausted she must have gotten by telling people how to pronounce her first name. Xs are a tough burden to bear. Do you suppose her father went by “Papa Papapetrou?”

  3. Liz says:

    What a great post! How did you hear of such a person? Fascinating woman and not just because of her name, though that helps your cause for sure. She died young – that is sad. Very cool that you memorialized her here 🙂

    • I read about her in the NY Times. I wish I would have seen one of her exhibits while she was still living.

      I have put Melbourne, Australia, on my travel wish list . . .

  4. ksbeth says:

    what an interesting life story, even if a short one, it was a full one. no wonder she often chose people who were different as her subjects –

  5. She lead an interesting life, and what an artistic eye. It’s so sad she lost her second round battle with breast cancer.

  6. wdydfae says:

    “. . . Fannie breaks new ground as she takes a walkabout Down Under and comes out on the other side with kaleidoscope of psyche-luminescent photo surrealism, and reams of Elvis pics . . .”

    “. . . Fannie’s got BoFN posters shaking in their koala slippers as they ponder the magnitude of photo attribution on the one hand, and BoFN’s ‘one photo one caption’ rule on the other . . .”

    ”. . . Once a poh-leek-SEE-nee pah-pah-PET-ro photo lens captured some pictures with polychrome hues . . .”

    “. . . Weaahuullllll . . . Since that pah-pah-PET-roo took that camera out
    And took a stroll down Graceland way, then we could have no doubt
    I’m not so lonely, no I’m, I’m not so lonely
    Not lonely ‘cause I see so many of me . . .”

    • Now that is a ground breaking blurb! Elvis fans everywhere are swooning.

      Koala slippers, how did I not know about the koala slippers!?!

      Speaking of rule breaking, I almost took a page out of King Dave’s playbook. I was tempted to add the Dancing Pickle, but it just didn’t feel right. I’ll have to bring the pickle back somewhere else.

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