Part of Modern Love

The Hero Mother - How to build a house

Peter Puklus



Photography installation, mixed media

Peter Puklus’ 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


Work on display at the Centraal Museum.


Event archive