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Peter Puklus

Handbook to the Stars


There is a reason why Peter Puklus’ first publication is called Handbook to the Stars, a subtle manifesto of his Ars Poetica. With this handbook he attempts to portray his own universe and provide insight into how his photographic works relate to each other: like galaxies in relative proximity to one another that are bound together by their own gravitational force. The images function alongside one another and through one another, have no sequence or chronology, but exist individually even as they form interconnections and follow their own patterns. Hence they do not necessarily fit on a page in this book; the imaginary distances keep the images in place. This implies that they may appear fragmented, sometimes small, sometimes large, precisely as they coexist in Puklus’ universe of images.

Puklus’ work is in keeping with contemporary trends in photography. While the focus of many photographers in the ‘90s was on pure documentary, this has now shifted to a personal interpretation of the world, or perhaps more accurately, an interpretation of the inner world. Although photography is Puklus’ primary medium, his method is not purely photographic. He frequently approaches his work as a kind of sculptor or installation artist. The compositions created in a studio-like setting are often spatial constructions, models or collages. In his studies of shapes we encounter fragile constructions, as well as objects to which he has made sometimes simple, sometimes radical alterations with an eye for the interplay of lines and geometric shapes. Like in the studio, his search for formal and three-dimensional aspects is also evident when he take photographs in natural and urban His work is not documentary, nor does it fall environments. Just as he experiments with obwithin other traditional photographic genres jects and shapes, so he also experiments with such as staged, portrait or still life photography. technology. Where necessary, he exchanges the Freed from conventions, he works according to static for the moving image, combines positive his own logic and interests, shifting naturally and negative images, and alternates black and between genres, themes and media. Coinci- white with colour. dence plays a minor role in his work. The famous decisive moment is irrelevant, because it Time is an interesting aspect, which is defined has already taken place at a conceptual level. His by a certain slowness and silence. It is not only photographs are visualisations of preconceived the process preceding the actual image that is concepts which he initially records in sketches time-consuming; photographing itself is generand notes, before painstakingly recreating them ally slow and meticulous. His subjects often deand capturing them with an analogue camera. note a certain transience or even timelessness.

Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars

Particularly striking are the photos in which Puklus, using basic materials and self-made objects, recalls the figurative language of avantgarde and constructivist art; or photographs of classical sculptures whose representations recur in various compositions. The lamp is perhaps one of the most frequently recurring motifs. Several of these are often placed in a certain relationship to one another or hung up, immediately calling to mind the trajectories described by celestial bodies. It is often said that this is a time when photography is undergoing dramatic changes. The question is, however, whether that was ever any different. Since the advent of digital photography, the assumption has been that it would supplant the slower analogue technology. The same goes for the photo book. This was also consigned to the history with the arrival of the internet and advanced digital presentation possibilities. The enormous and growing popularity of the photo book seems, for the time being at least, to prove the contrary. Puklus’ universe argues for the survival of both.

Claudia Küssel


Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Things Fall Over During the three year period making our book, Ghetto, Adam and I would often pass the time, during those countless journeys, building structures from peanuts and toothpicks. These were the two types of construction material available, no matter where we were in the world - a cocktail bar in Laguna Beach or a Macedonian motel overlooking a rubbish dump had lots of both. Wherever we went we found peanuts and toothpicks – they were a double act like us. Each peanut could accept the sharp prick of no more than three toothpicks. Trial and error, hundreds of broken nuts and countless blunted toothpicks taught us. The peanut, the glue, the toothpick, the girder; and a series of triangulated structures, fanned out in three dimensions across the small unstable formica tables where we killed time between taking pictures. We probably spent more time building these futuristic structures–reminiscent of Russian constructivism and occasionally Italian futurism–than taking pictures in fact, and this first book by Peter Puklus suggests that, had we been smart, we might have developed a parallel practice, divorced from our roles as documentarians, in which formica, peanuts and toothpicks were our only subject. He did not pioneer this mode of observation. Peter Fischli and David Weiss have continued a tradition of Dadaesque still life that Man Ray championed. The young Swiss photography duo Nico and Taiyo continue to celebrate this mode of an ‘ant fucker’ absurdum. Taking into account the work of Roman Singer perhaps there is something essentially Swiss about humor in three dimensions. Things connect, objects stay for a while in balance and then fall over, stairs are sometimes just stairs and boxes sometimes float. These are the sweet truths and matter of fact observations we can draw from Puklus’s elegant first book. Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin

Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Review: Handbook to the Stars by Peter Puklus A photobook is like a sentence, or a story. There is a beginning and an end. Whatever story you want to tell (provided there is one) you need to fit inside, between the covers. Per se, this format allows for an amazing range of options. But what if there is no story, or if you want images to relate to each other not as “this one comes after that one,” but as “this one relates to that one, but also to that one and that one”? You could, of course, group all of these images in a single spread, but then that spread becomes its own self-containing unit. What can you do if you want to escape from this restriction? For his self-published book Handbook to the Stars, Peter Puklus came up with a very simple solution: The images are arranges in an installation, and the spreads of the book show parts of that installation. As a consequence, images often are cut off. You can find their full, uncut versions somewhere in the book, but fragments might appear elsewhere. Conceptually, this approach is not so very different from the old-fashioned idea of sequencing where one image comes after another, with the mental after-image of the image on the preceding page adding to the one on the current page. The difference, here, is that you escape from the often somewhat simplistic idea of “from here to there.” Images might relate to each other in non-linear ways, and if they do why not attempt to work with that? Handbook to the Stars has a strange world on display that is hard to describe. Straight photographs sit next to very much constructed ones, colour photographs sit next to b/w ones (which might or might not be inverted). I think the best approach to the book is not trying to “get” it straight away. This book is no riddle that you solve, to then put it aside and move on (at what stage did the idea that one needs to “get” art enter the discourse?). Instead, the viewer is invited to experience the book and to see connections between photographs. It really is as simple as that. This will inevitably take you somewhere. Where it might take you I don’t know. Photography as an art form would be tremendously boring if all photographs did was to take us all to the very same places. Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars

The book is self-published and comes in an edition of 300 copies. With these kinds of books it’s hard to say how well they will do, how quickly (or maybe: if) they will sell out. You might want to order your copy, because here’s a book that is confident enough to raise the bar. This is what a photobook can look like, this is what it can do.

By Joerg Colberg May 11, 2012

http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/2012/05/review_handbook_to_the_stars_by_peter_puklus/


Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Title: Handbook to the Stars Author: Peter Puklus Type of publication: Book 64 pages, hardcover, 16 x 21 cm offset print, 13 color and 37 black and white images Concept: Claudia Küssel and Peter Puklus Text and selection: Claudia Küssel Graphic design: Palo Bálik Translation: Cecily Layzell Digital retouching: Zsófia Kovács and Sándor Rácz Offset print: Devin Printing House Published by: Štokovec, Space for Culture Project Partner: Lumen Gallery With the support of: Visegrad Fund Edition: 300 copies ISBN: 978-80-89587-00-1 Price: 28 EUR

Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


‘Handbook to the Stars’ installation view at Curators’ Network in Ludwig Museum, Budapest, October 2012.


‘Handbook to the Stars’ book installation view at World Models exhibition in Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, November 2012.


‘Handbook to the Stars’ book installation view at World Models exhibition in Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, November 2012.


‘Handbook to the Stars’ installation view at Trapéz Gallery, Budapest, December 2012.


‘Handbook to the Stars’ installation view at Trapéz Gallery, Budapest, December 2012.


‘Handbook to the Stars’ installation view at Trapéz Gallery, Budapest, December 2012.


The exhibition entitled Handbook to the Stars is the first presentation of Peter Puklus’ newest series. The photographs were taken in Banska Stiavnica (Sk), where Peter was artist in residence during the past three months at Banská Stanica Contemporary, an institution run by Zuzana Bodnárová (curator) and Svätopluk Mikyta (artist). This project is the continuation of an artistic process defined by the series Budapest Eden, started in 2009. Dreamlike symbols, mock-ups, installations, readymades. This series is the photo-documentation of a sculpting experiment, resembling the form and light exercises of the 20-s avantgarde. Handbook to the Stars attempts to visualize the infinitely flexible and tricky associative capacity of our brain. Peter Puklus chooses not to leave his studio during the making of this series, but to commit himself with body and soul to his vision and observations, in the company of trash and  bric-a-brac,  in complete isolation of the outside world. Following inner voices, he reveals and gives proof to deep, unknown and invisible relations and conspiracies. Peter Puklus is the member of the Lumen board. Gergely László

Peter Puklus: Handbook to the Stars


Peter Puklus

selected exhibitions 2012 Peter Puklus, Trapéz, Budapest, Hungary (solo) World Models, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary (group) Curators’ Network, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary (group) Jedentag, Robert Morat Gallery, Hamburg, Germany (group) 2011 Handbook to the Stars, Lumen Gallery, Budapest, Hungary (solo) 4. Fotobook Festival, nomination for Dummy Award, Kassel, Germany (group) Speaks for Itself, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary (group) 2010 Jahresgaben, Kustverein Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany (group) Photographie Hongoise Contemporaine, Institut Hongrois de Paris, Paris, France (group) Private Landscape - Junge Fotografie aus Ungrarn, Kunstverein, Düsseldorf, Germany (group) Best Before End, Inda Gallery, Budapest, Hungary (group) Lab East, ewz.selection, Zürich, Switzerland (group) Budapest Eden, Photoport Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia (solo) Art Fanatics, Contemporary Art Collections, Kozma-kArton Collection, Kunsthalle, Budapest, Hungary (group) 2009 Young Hungarian Photography, Central European House of Photography, Bratislava, Slovakia (group) Renaissance Photography Prize, The Music Room, London, UK (group) Regardez-moi - I’m back ! Gallery Immanence, Paris, France (group) Fotofestiwal, 8th International Festival of Photography, Lodz, Poland (group) 2008 Intimacy - No Title, SEDF, Bratislava, Slovakia (solo) Woman Drawn with Light, G13 Art Gallery, Budapest, Hungary (group) 2007 Gallery for Wintertime, Zak Gallery, Berlin, Germany (group) First Photography Biennal, Dunaújváros, Hungary (group) 2006 International Photo Month, Krakow, Poland (group)

publications monographs 2012 One and a half meter, published by Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany Handbook to the Stars, published by Stokovec and Lumen Gallery 2011 Dummy for ‘Intimacy - No Title’, 3 copies

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1980 00 36 30 3120345 hello@peterpuklus.com peterpuklus@gmail.com http://www.peterpuklus.com/

awards and honors 2011 International Visegrad Fund, Artist-in-Residency Programme, St a nica Contemporary, Banská Štiavnicá, Slovakia 2009 The 2009 Sony World Photography Awards (shortlisted) Renaissance Photography Prize 2009, London, (category winner - first prize) Fotofestiwal, 8th International Festival of Photography, Lodz, Poland (finalist) 2007 First Photography Biennal, Dunaújváros (first prize) 2005 Epson Photo Art Award, Art Cologne (best selected work)

other publications 2012 No Thoughts Zine - Seven Blood of The Young Zine - Friend Zone 2011 Subjective Atlas of Hungary Budapest, Kitchen Budapest, HVG Könyvek 2010 Lab East, 30 photographic positions from Central- and Eastern Europe, blurb Waterfall magazine, Pocket issue Lumen Book III, Photolumen Foundation, Budapest 2009 The Room #10, Budapest Waterfall magazine, What’s Your Function In Life? Fotofestiwal 2009, 8th International Festival of Photography in Lodz Regardez-moi − I’m back!, Budapest 2008 The Room #08, Budapest 2007 Lumen Book 2, Lumen Foundation, Budapest 2006 Present Continous II, Platán Gallery, Budapest The Room #03, Budapest studies 2006—2009 2005—2006 2005 2000—2005 2004

DLA Studies in photography at MOME, Budapest, Hungary Masters in New Media, ENSCI/Les Ateliers, Paris, France Graduated in photography at MOME, Budapest, Hungary MFA in photography at MOME, Budapest, Hungary ESAG, École Penninghen/Académie Julien, Paris, France


Handbook to the Stars - Project description