Batyr Backstage, 2007
10 3/4 x 13 3/4 inches on 11 x 14 inch paper
Signed Edition of 50
(American/Israeli, b. 1970)
Rachel Papo’s series Desperately Perfectdocuments adolescents, ages ten to eighteen, from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, who practice twelve hours a day; six days a week; on the barre or in a classroom. As Papo has stated, the “project is a look into the lives of a group of adolescents who, in their hope for a better, wider life, spend the majority of their youth in fierce competition. Based on my own memories of being a ballet student for nine years of my childhood and never being the best in class, these images emphasize the emotional side of these children's uncompromising reality. They stretch their bodies further every day, desperate to stand out, while constantly being encouraged by their instructors to be uniform — identical to one another. Engaged in endless repetition of physical phrases, these students obsessively strive for a level of perfection that is always out of reach.”
Papo was born in 1970 in Columbus, Ohio and was raised in Israel. She began working as a photojournalist in the late 1990s and graduated from the School of Visual Arts with an MFA in photography in 2005. Papo's works are included in several public and private collections and have been exhibited at Griffin Museum of Photography, Boston; the 92nd Street Y, New York; Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles; Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle; and ClampArt Gallery, New York; and have been published in the U.S., Germany, Israel, Switzerland, Spain, France, Brazil, Estonia, Hong Kong, China, and Turkey. Papo has won many awards, including selection as a finalist for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography and a 2006 NYFA Fellowship. A monograph of her seriesSerial No. 3817131 was published by powerHouse books.