She would have smiled…
This morning Robert Nelson tweeted “Polixeni left nothing to do or be said, but a sorrowful emptiness now that she’s dead. (please, no flowers to the house)”
Last week Michael Reid’s Sydney gallery had opened an exhibition MY HEART – still full of her in which Papapetrou’s most recent, very different photographs were displayed.
Director Toby Meagher, said that this new work “fearlessly engaged with the reality of Poli’s own illness…”
Silk-screened, slightly ‘distressed’, they are sombre. They are not the optimistic highly coloured, floral works of recent years in which her now 21 year old daughter Olympia’s face began once again to appear after the trauma of the 2008 controversy over child nudity in Australian photography. They comprise a tender dialogue between mother and daughter that has been revisited throughout Olympia’s life.
The Eden series announced a new lease of life, a short reprieve from cancer, and a fierce determination to go on.
The title of the show is extracted from the lengthy poem Souvenir by Alfred de Musset (1810–1857), published in Revue des Deux Mondes, Volume 25, January to March 1841 edition ;
Mon coeur, encor plein d’elle errait sur son visage,
Et ne la trouvait plus.
My heart, still full of her traveled over her face,
And found her there no more [..]
His words sit aptly beside these images with she which shaped her own obituary to an extraordinary force in Australian photography.
Ta fleur, hélas ! a la blancheur
De la désolante innocence ;
Mais de la craintive espérance
Ta feuille porte la couleur.
As-tu pour moi quelque message ?
Tu peux parler, je suis discret.
Ta verdure est-elle un secret ?
Ton parfum est-il un langage ?
from À Une Fleur Alfred de Musset 1838