Peter Puklus’ One and a Half Meter contains images that on the artist’s website for the most part are filed under “Intimacy.” Intimacy might just be too obvious a title, but I might find it preferable over One and a Half Meter, which seems to take the viewer away from what one is really dealing with here. But then again, those one and a half meters around oneself are exactly the zone where intimacy is taking place. Have someone enter that space, and things get comfortable or uncomfortable - depending on whether the other person is intended to be inside or not. (more)
The people whose portraits feature in the book are all very obviously part of the photographer’s inner sanctum. They include close friends, his partner (prominently so), and even the artist himself in two self-portraits. Portraits, almost inevitably, attract the gaze. These portraits make the viewer linger, being invited into the zone of comfort, being invited to look at these strangers that are being portrayed with such gentle mastery.
In addition to portraits, there are many still lives from or glimpses into the various living quarters where the subjects reside. Just like the portraits, these photograph live from their quiet, reduced beauty. Even when there is a mess, there never seems to be too much at view. And the photographer’s hands are everywhere, in the form of a light meter here, a camera there, even a playful backdrop for a bouquet of flowers, taped to a wall. It is as if the act of photographing, the artificiality of the images needs to be brought back to the fore: It is as if the photographer wanted to remind us that this is all a construction, that what you are seeing is but a small glimpse, a constructed glimpse into someone’s life.
The fact that the book is a relatively small production only enhances the effect of the work. The book trusts its viewers to understand the preciousness as coming from the photographs, not from a lavish production. If there is a good example for how a smaller book can be preferable, here is one. I personally might have reduced the edit even further, cutting five or six photographs towards the end, to make every photograph even more precious, but that is just a small concern here.
One and a Half Meter, photographs by Peter Puklus, essay by Bill Kouwenhoven, 96 pages, Kehrer, 2012