Thom Puckey


For many years, the British performance artists Thom Puckey and Dirk Larsen worked together under the name ‘Reindeer werk’. They presented their so-called ‘living-workshops’ both at home and abroad and called their work Behaviour Art. Their main topic: human behaviour.

In 1978, Puckey and Larsen moved to Amsterdam. A small shop with blinds in the Haarlemmerstraat became their point of departure. They found a temporary home at De Appel Foundation, literally. From the 31st of October until the 4th of November they lived there (at the time, this contemporary art centre was based at Brouwersgracht 196). Everyone could join them: there were lots of extra beds.

Puckey and Larsen were never short of ideas, but the money always was. Sometimes, they asked some friends to join them for dinner and contribute with a small sum.

When I received my first invitation they had teamed me up with Wies Smals, director of De Appel (‘all the dishes will consist of combinations of peanuts and pineapple’). I couldn’t make it because I had a previous appointment and I do not know if Wies attended the dinner.

A year later, I was offered a ride to Living Prediction in Hanover (’the diet is: mandarins, liver + almonds’). I don’t remember why I did not join them on that occasion.

On the 8th of December 1978, the two performance artists presented a ‘behaviour act’ in ‘A+’ as part of a programme that Michael Gibbs and I had set up. Every day should come with a new surprise for visitors, like a film or video presentation, a lecture, a performance or an exhibition lasting no more than two or three days.

Three years later, in 1981, the artistic marriage between Thom Puckey and Dirk Larsen was over. My new gallery space – the squatted porter’s apartment of the former House of Detention at the Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen – was the venue for their divorce party. Thom poured chemicals over the gallery’s floor; meanwhile Dirk was hanging up paintings.

On the photo: Thom Puckey, September 1981; on the right: Louwrien Wijers en Thom’s son Benjamin.