Polixeni Papapetrou


Taken from Article:

Scenes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are played out against the giddy illusions of painstakingly painted trompe l’oeil sets based on the book illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. In contrast, many of the recreations of Dodgson’s photographs are set against an inky, depthless black background, where the scenes appear to float in indefinite space. Location and ground appear mutable as perspective, a tool for making space fixed, is stood on its head by submitting to the caprice of theatre, merging its two contending elements of vertical and horizontal-the wall and the floor.

In tandem these two aspects of play, mimicry and vertiginous adventure, combined in Papapetrou’s series, provide a fascinating depiction of imagination. Papapetrou’s representations of Olympia and friends re-enacting Alice’s adventures set up a contrast between the intelligent, self-aware gaze and reality of Olympia and the enchanting fictitiousness of the painted backdrops. The scenes appear to demonstrate the process of the individual consciousness escaping into a fantasy world. Alternatively, other scenes in front of a black background situate the children amongst real objects, and appear to document, from outside, the external evidence of play. Rather than illustrate an imaginative world they leave more up to the viewer’s own imagination.

These photographs by Papapetrou utilise the similarity in creative process between art and play. The creation of a fictitious reality and the latitude for innovation are common characteristics between art and play, and the sense permeating the works is one of imaginative wonder and curiosity at what can be learnt from another world or perspective. Olympia offered the title for the exhibition from a song on a favourite television program, “Mystical places of happiness and peace: a wonderland, my land of dreams”. Similarly, a pertinent quote from Alice as she journeys through Wonderland is “curiouser and curiouser!” – Vivienne Webb, 2004 (read more)

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