Ulrich Puritz

bags, doors, rubber tyres

From the bar of a run-down hotel complex in a Carribean fishing village I was looking at the oval of a generous swimming pool. The milky water it contained once must have been clear. A perfectly white plastic bag was floating in it. In slow motion it was moving along the same paths again and again. From time to time it sank and disappeared. Then, slowly, it became visible again. Subtly the bag changed its form. A sculpture able to “breathe” and to float.

Some Blacks gathered around the bar, laughing, drinking and chatting, solely concerned with themselves and their after-work time. My ears clung to them while my eyes remained fixed on the bag.

Years have passed. Still today, I remember this bag. It showed me a beauty of bags in a place where nobody would have expected it.

Greifswald. It was 14 years after the Wall had come down. The worn furniture of a run-down garage was to be thrown out. At first, cabinet doors and shelves were nothing but dirty and oily junk. We had to use gloves in filling the skips. In there, patches, traces, dirt and oil began to speak. At first, they spoke of long GDR years and mechanics’ craftiness outwitting everyday shortcomings. Then they spoke of garage years in a reunited Germany where the inventiveness and survival skills of days past did not pay off any longer in view of a newfangled efficiency.

I took doors and shelves out of the skips again. I could not stop thinking about the stories they told.

rubber tyres
The photograph from a family album shows my mother and me. Back then, I must have been four years old. The rubber tube of a car tyre served as a swimming ring. A wooden cross was fixed in the centre for me to sit on. The swimming object and the paddle had been invented by my father, who supposedly also took the photograph. The hard rubber “ring” was like a safe island above the murky depths of the water which surely concealed all kinds of mysteries, treasures and dreadful things.

It was a short moment at the pond of Griebenow Castle near Greifswald which brought back this far-away and forgotten scene to my memory about fifty years later. A short piece of Now suddenly stirred a piece of Yesterday. And not without effect.

trivial things

As a child I was able to give attention to a nail in the gutter or a crown cork in a tarred road cover in an amount that put my parents’ patience to the test on walks and shopping tours. Still today, I am interested in things which have become rubbish as people’s attention and imagination deserted them. Left to themselves, to time and to the place, they are telling of what almost nobody knows or nobody wants to know.

Such things are everywhere. Wherever I am, wherever I go, they are the first to meet me and the last to wave goodbye. The further I travel, the more closely I experience them: coke cans in the middle of the rain forest, plastic bags on beautiful Carribean beaches.

How far I even travel and which part of the world I even enter, I am already there – like in the tale of the hare and the hedgehog. The difference is that I am hare and hedgehog at the same time. I come across that part of myself which identifies me as an agent of a culture that has spread lipsticks, shower gel, power saws, concrete mixers, sheet metal or just drink cans and plastic bags – and the promisses they hold – around the world and still keeps on doing so and will not refrain from it.

As an agent against my own will, I take efforts to unmask myself by use of artistic means. Trivial things support me. They are performers, indicators and points of contact.


Every place asks questions about a “Now” – my Now, its own Now, the Now that breaches the gap between us, and the Now that separates us.

A room, a place, an empty site, a green ... Rooms and places are visual workshops, stores of material, repertoires of forms, collections of signs and stories, spheres of activity and show stages. Presence for me means to become active in them.

... evolves out of frictions, out of resistance and out of a balancing of a tangible, corporeal closeness to materials, forms, purposes, meanings and contexts and the greatest possible intellectual distance from them. Experimental practice – involving associations, intuition, imagination and incidents – opens up testing grounds which serve to investigate and refine knowledge, experiences, senses and perspectives. In this way, fine art contributes to anthropogenesis.

place to place, room to room, eye to eye
My artistic interventions in places represent my reflections on a temporary, material basis. They bring about effects and impressions themselves. In pictures, objects, materials, experiences and concepts they will live on for some time. For long periods, they may remain invisible, until somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow, between you and me, there comes up a new opportunity to unfold some presence.

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