Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let's go to the circus - Part 2

Bruce Davidson – Circus
A member of Magnum since 1958, American photographer Bruce Davidson’s most recent book ‘Circus’ (Steidl - 2007) is a wonderful testimony to the lives of American circus travelers in the mid-20th century. His black and white photographs mix behind the scene and on-stage stories in 3 different Circuses over 10 years (1958-1965-1967). The first section is dedicated to his intrusive, very emotional masterpiece essay about Jimmy Armstrong, dwarf-clown of the Beatty circus. Here it’s not about the show and the glitter anymore, but about the humanity of this intriguing performer. The 2 other sections, even if less magical photographically speaking, show the excitement and laughter that happen when the circus comes to town.
Beautifully composed, full of emotions, all Davidson’s images stay true to the tradition of Magnum’s artistic documentary photography. 
    Read a great review of the book on circus-by-bruce-davidson

Learn more on Bruce Davidson: http://www.magnumphotos.com

Michal Chelbin
  Born in Israel in 1974, Michel Chelbin is  well-recognized in her country where she won many prizes and has had many numerous solo and group exhibitions since 2000. Her work has also started to be appreciated on the international photography scene and she had a few great reviews and publications in famous influential magazines.
I decided to include her in this selection, as her approach to circus performers is unique and compelling. In a series called ‘Stangely Familiar” she attempts ‘to capture human stories in everyday life, those that exist in the space between the odd and the ordinary.’ Possibly influenced by Diane Arbus’ images of ‘strange people’, she takes close straightforward portraits of all types of performers (circus performers but also ballroom dancers or child athletes) in casual settings, off stage. Her images are enigmatic, mystical and sometimes full of an awkward erotic charge. In strong vivid colors or black and white she offers beautiful intense images full of contradictions and far from clichés. In each picture we feel that we enter the intimacy, even the mind of the subject but without knowing more than their first name. 

Xenia, Janna and Alona in the woods, Russia.

Paulina, Ukraine 2005

Jenya and Vitally on a spring bed, Russia 2003

Father, Israel 2005
Dasha and Oxana, Russia 2004
 Learn more on Michal Chelbin: http://www.michalchelbin.com/

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