Intrigued by the transformative quality of masks, Polixeni Papapetrou (1960, Australia), began looking into the types of masks available in toy stores. She noticed that many masks were comical caricatures of the elderly and became interested in the idea of the elderly as ‘other’. Despite the fact that time affects all people’s bodies and minds, many people fear this change. Papapetrou decided to reflect this common aspect of humanity in a theatrical way by giving different types – from baby to senior – the same, grotesque masks. Setting these characters up in various daily life scenes, she created an awkward, surreal world that parallels the liminal nature of people’s lives. The puppet-like costumes and colourful landscapes in the images add to the fairytale-like feeling.
However, this series is not just showing a comical dreamworld, but it reflects a critical thought. Papapetrou wants to criticize the stereotypes that contemporary culture imposes on the way we should look, defying nature itself. By using her two children, aged 13 and 15, as models for the series, she reflects her critique: whether the children are portrayed as young or old, they represent figures who are reconciling their inner world with the social demands of the outer world, transforming themselves into inhabitants of an alternative dream