Peter PuklusPublished by Fabrizio Mifsud Soler | Culture, Photography
The Epic Love Story of a Warrior
Peter Puklus is not a new name in international circles. Over the past 12 months he has exhibited at the Festival International de Mode & de Photographie in Hyères, at FOAM in Amsterdam and recently held a performance hosted by C/O in Berlin. He was also shortlisted for the Leopold Bloom award in Budapest, Hungary where he currently resides. Editot-at-large, Fabrizio Mifsud Soler catches up with Puklus in the first of a new series of interviews with contemporary photographers and artists.
Peter Puklus, Donát after waking up, 2005, Budapest
You’ve been described as a modern documentary author. However how do you describe the aesthetic behind your work?
Well, this is a term which was attached to me quite early, but I wouldn't put myself in that box anymore. At the time when I was working on my book 'One and a half meter' it was applicable because I more or less documented my friends and family and the spaces they used to live in. Since then some time has passed and things have changed. I’ve been working on many things and focusing mostly on mixing everything up. Seriously.
A documentary approach to photography implies recording for posterity. However your subjects are some times far from what most people would think twice about, let alone photograph or think of as art. How do you feel about this? Is the ‘banal’, as it has been described, central to your artistic vision?
I try to not to worry too much about what people think of my art, unless they like it, hehe. OK, not always, but again, I started 'One and a half meter' in 2004 as my diploma project for a photography MA in 2005 at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest. I finally finished shooting works for the series in 2009 and could publish the book only early last year at Kehrer's. Banal is also synonym to everyday, average, natural. The things which surround us, the situations we live day-by-day. This is where I am from, this is how I live. There is an important connection between 'One and a half meter' and 'Handbook to the Stars': I cooked from what I could get.
Instances in ‘Handbook to the Stars’ offer a very different approach. You created compositions out of found objects whilst at other times constructing your own three dimensional creations. How do you reconcile this with the rest of your work? Would it be fair to say that these pieces are the ‘product’ of a different environment, i.e. your three month residency at Banská St A Nica Contemporary?
Definitely, the people and the environment in Banská Stiavnica inspired me a lot. The opportunity to work there as a resident artist came at a very right time and I was able to express new forms and explore new territories. And, as described above, 'banal' reappeared again in the form of everyday objects and situations which I sometimes turned into three dimensional works. This all happened in 2011.
Peter Puklus, Detail from a Handbook to the Stars
Would you say the geographical location of an artist/photographer is a relevant factor in his career, both in terms of the work itself and exposure?
Recently I think a lot about this question. Stay or move? Both yes and no. While looking back to the history of Hungarian photography you have to realize that all famous photographers (Kertész, Brassaï, Moholy-Nagy, Munkácsi, Capa, Hervé) left the country at quite an early stage of their career. Of course not only because they wanted, but they also had to - that's not a simple question. Our time is different with fast and cheap travel, immediate and free communication. The possibility is open for me to stay local and act global - whatever it means. Yes, the geographical location of the artist is an important factor and he/she has to deal with it.
Some of your work goes beyond the parameters of photography and into that of the printed book and one would even dare say installation. How do you feel about this blurring of boundaries? Is there a desire from your part to go beyond the straightforward (presentation of an) image?
As I prefer to consider myself an artist working mostly in the medium of photography, I believe that photography is much more than a square wooden frame on the wall. Needless to say that the exhibition of prints is a quite relevant stage of the medium but there are many (even unexplored) territories before, behind it and/or instead of it. Hopefully this approach becomes more and more visible in my present and future works.
Would you say your work is heading away from where it began and into a particular direction? Is there conscious departure and change or is rather the case of evolution?
Of course it has moved well away from where it begun however I always try to keep connections and references even if the gap between different works sometimes seems to be quite big. The will of discovering is key.
Peter Puklus is currently working on his third book project 'The Epic Love Story of a Warrior' which questions the image of a common history through the eyes of a fictitious Central-European family.
Peter Puklus, Theatre, from his ongoing project The Epic Love Story of A Warrior