Peter Puklus

Peter Puklus’s photography-based practice experiments with and expands the medium through the use of installation and sculpture. He deconstructs traditional notions of photography by eschewing linear narrative and relying on the powers of association in open-ended configurations. The long-term project, The Hero Mother, shown here, consists of numerous photographs that can be shown in different arrangements, just one of which is presented here. The installation, shot entirely in the artist’s daily environment, focuses on the nuclear family, reconstructs everyday life and exposes the intimacy of home and inter-family dynamics. The project probes and critiques gender stereotypes and role clichés within the family structure: the masculine pater familias and master-builder or provider and the mother as muse and primary carer/nurturer. Yet, at the same time, it also suggests the reversal of stereotypes and the pre-determined social roles of women and men, the possibilities of escaping from family models, and on alternative models of parenthood and family relations. Puklus questions these traditional pre-established female and male roles: motherhood as an alleged heroic activity and the supposed duty of the father to build and protect the home. He breaks down traditional symbols associated with maternal and paternal figures in a playful, subversive and critical way. Though the photos are based on private stories and references within the artist’s personal life, they speak volumes about how modern family relationships are being re-defined in the wake of gender politics, equality and feminism. Presented as an installation in the form of sculptural, photographic and performance-based works, The Hero Mother deconstructs the symbols of modern, heterosexual life while pinpointing the challenges related to family today, in a demanding and rapidly changing environment, acknowledging the fact that it is becoming less and less “a man’s world”.

Peter Puklus