Vicki Papageorgopoulos had an art retrospective at the age of 30. A self-effacing sense of humour recurs in her practice, whose content often focuses upon failed successes - resulting in hilarious and undoubtedly charming artworks. "Nobody has a retrospective at 30," she says with a wry grin. For Papageorgopoulos, she can laugh at the art world's impenetrability, and makes a running joke out of her attempts to infiltrate it by creating art about it. She meditates upon her and other people's failed attempts to launch into the realm of artistic exclusivity.
She was chosen alongside a small bunch of other visual artists for a residency at Fraser Studios in Chippendale, aimed at providing space for artists to develop work that will be exhibited after a three-month stint at an open day on August 1st. She's currently developing, An Ode to Imposters: Milli Vanilli and the Cats where themes of amateurism and failure resurface for the artist.
In 2005 Papageorgopoulos exhibited in the Venice biennale. She made a tennis ball with stick arms and legs, a little face and hair as a replica of herself. Through guerrilla-style tactics, she became a featured artist. "We walked around the Venice biennale placing our balls on top of multimillion dollar artworks when the attendants weren't looking... so we could say 'in 2005 I exhibited at the Venice biennale'".
Papageorgopoulos surmounts that, "If it's not going to come to you, you've got to take yourself to it... Why can't I exhibit at the biennale? I'll do it under my own terms." In Australia, the frustrations of a lack of resources to support creative practice seem perennially ubiquitous, in all areas of the arts. It's enough to make anyone turn Byronic, to gaze through the glass darkly and paint Goya-like in a stifled corner of a piss-stinking room and never venturing outside. Papageorgopoulos turns these frustrations around for the better, and upon looking at what she's developed so far, I could not stop smiling. Undoubtedly there is sadness behind the work, yet she tints failure with a more positive spin.
I shared with her the giddy rush I had as a thirteen year-old, taking a picture of Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell) into my hairdresser and getting my hair dyed exactly like her (hideous bright red with white-blonde streaks). Papageorgopoulos' current work, which is shaping up to look like a teenage, fanatical home-made shrine, makes you want to indulge in remembering and immersing yourself in those (embarrassing) teenage obsessions. "As we get old we get more self conscious," she says, "when you're that age you think your dreams are going to come true, you do. And as you get older you get jaded and you get a full time job and reality kicks in but I think it's that kind of fun that I'm trying to keep going."
That utopian time when dreams kept us happy is kept alive in Papageorgopoulos' artwork. She's one to watch out for. She was in the Venice biennale, don't you know?
For more information about the Fraser Studios open day seehttp://www.queenstreetstudio.com/fraserstudios.html/
Charlotte Farrell is a theatre and performance studies PhD candidate at UNSW writing about Barrie Kosky's productions of classic tragedy. She is also one half of feminist performance duo, What Makes Men Blush.