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Peter Puklus

Sleeping self portrait I.

Peter Puklus, "Sleeping self portrait I.", 2018, Ábrahámhegy from the series 'Hero Mother – How to build a house', Courtesy of the artist, Robert Morat Gallery – Berlin and Glassyard Gallery – Budapest.

Jan 18, 2021 at 18:14

Hello Peter,

This self-portrait triggers me enormously because it focuses immediately on your physicality. As a viewer, I only see a part of you, no face or eyes as mirrors of the soul, and yet the image tells me a lot about how you are; your physicality, energy, and mood. Your framing makes me long for more, to see more of your body, and to know more about you as a human being. It almost actively and cinematographically invites a longing to see movement in the image, as a viewer. Sharing your body with us while lying down and seen from above is very new in the academic approach towards portrait photography. In one way or another, there is so little deviation from the frontal approach to the body in portrait art.

By choosing an image in grayscale, my consciousness also becomes more sensory in this case. My focus is on the textures and materials around you, the intimacy of them; whereby your presence is emphasized. The skin shines, the body as a canvas is alive and tactile. I suddenly ask myself whether you are sleeping or not and whether you made the decision of capturing yourself, or if someone else was with you in that moment of pushing the button. When you made the image, were you aware of it as if it is, or would become, a public image – did this influence the making of it?

Mar16, 2021 at 18:16

First of all, thank you very much for bringing my attention to those details you mention in the first part of your question. I find it very interesting that you discover certain messages which I wasn't totally aware of.

I made this image on August 2nd, 2018 in a little village named Ábrahámhegy (Abraham's hill) which is situated on the side of the Balaton lake in Hungary. There is a little house there that we usually rent for the summer holidays and one of the rooms is used as an office/studio/separation space. The furniture is very simple: one table, one chair, and one bed in the style of the 80-s, my childhood (it is very common here that the week-end house is furnished with the old but still functioning furniture). This is the room that we use when we need a moment of silence, a conference call, or necessary work during the recreation times of the family. This is also my pop-up studio where I bring the most important tools, books, or other stuff I need for creation. Before I took this photograph I was thinking of an imaginary situation where I imagined myself lying in the bed and reading a book before falling asleep. Once I was done with the first idea I kept shooting self-portraits along the narrative: sleeping, turning in the bed, and other stuff that I think I usually do while being unconscious. So I was alone in the room (while my kids played in the garden and my wife was sunbathing) and I sort of played that role of tranquillity. I acted actively in front of the camera, which was installed on a tripod in a very close range, and wire-connected to my laptop on my right-hand side so I could check every composition before pressing the remote shutter button. Since the planned image is part of a bigger, still on-going, and ambitious series entitled 'The Hero Mother – How to build a house' I was aware of the possibility that it will become public at exhibitions, or in the future book of the project published by Witty Books in cooperation with Images Vevey in April 2021. It is only now that I realize that I have very very few self-portraits which depict me in a non-active, unaware, or even passed-out position – which is a strange feeling to face.

Thank you and best wishes,



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