There's something utterly magical about the circus. Of course there are the superhuman feats, the drum rolls and dancing lights, but perhaps more so, it is the tangible revelry of the performers in their art, their sense of camaraderie, their trust in each other, that make it impossible not to enter into the spirit of the big top. Many children dream of running away and joining a circus, of living a life filled with gypsy caravans, tightrope-walking and fire-eating, and if you were one of them, Circus – a new book of joyful images by Italian photographer Giuliano Plorutti – is sure to reignite that desire.
"Although belonging to one, large family, these performers nurture their own individuality, often alone with their skill"
A master when it comes to capturing the person over the showman personality, Plorutti, by immersing himself in the lives of various travelling circus groups, has managed to penetrate their world, gaining their friendship and trust. As Luca Panaro writes in one of the book's accompanying essays: "Although belonging to one, large family, these performers nurture their own individuality, often alone with their skill. Plorutti seems to be aware of how photography can get close to them, group them together, rediscover their human face and allow them to feel protagonists even when they are not performing."Plorutti favours street performers of the "cirque nouveau" ilk over established circus families, honing in on those whose show consists of a more simple combination of theatre, music and dance, as well as a more interactive approach to their audience. One such example is the renowned Cirque Bidon who feature in a number of the images. Plurotti's own technique as a photographer is similarly boundary blurring, as Panaro goes on to note, "[he] does not position himself and his camera arrogantly in front of his subject like an artist who must take home his own idea of the world. On the contrary, his presence becomes invisible, he relates to the people being photographed, stripping himself of his role at that moment." The resulting photographs allow the viewer to feel part of this elite collection of beings in all their bendy, swinging, blissfully nomadic glory, fulfilling that childhood dream more and more with each turn of the page.
Circus by Giuliano Plorutti is published by Damiani and is out now.