Behind the Lens
Painted Smiles and Hidden Tears: A Photographer’s Journey into the World of Circus Clowns
Polichinelo – Portugal/Brazil
I have never been able to resist the allure of the mysterious world of the circus. Everything about it piqued my interest, from the flashing lights to the colorful costumes to the air of wonder and excitement. Hence, when I made the decision to start on a tour as a photographer to chronicle circuses located in different parts of the world, I knew that I was in for an exciting experience.
My adventures have taken me to some of the most remote parts of the world, from the neon-lit streets of Tokyo to the desolate plains of Africa, and everything in between. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the clowns no matter where I went. They were a mysterious and intriguing bunch of individuals who were usually hanging out on the outside of the circus and never quite seemed to belong with the other performers.
When I first started taking pictures of the clowns, I didn’t understand that behind their painted-on smiles, they were hiding a profound sense of melancholy and isolation. They were frequently the punch line of jokes and the objects of mockery, and yet they continued to perform night after night in the hopes of distracting themselves from their problems by entertaining the crowds.
I came across clowns who had given up everything to the bottle, including their families, their houses, and any sense of who they were. I encountered clowns who had been shunned by their communities because they were unconventional and did not adhere to the standards set out by society. And there were clowns who were just moving around aimlessly, never exactly settling into one location as their permanent abode.
In spite of the challenges they faced, the clowns were some of the most strong-willed and motivational people I’d ever encountered. They instilled in me the value of perseverance, the significance of finding joy even in the most difficult of situations, and the admirable quality of being honest to one’s own nature.
As a photographer, when I think back on my travels, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people I had the opportunity to photograph along the route. They not only reminded me of the significance of empathy and connection in a world that can frequently feel so cold and unconnected, but they also opened my eyes to a world that is full of wonder and possibilities.
Limited edition prints are available, please contact David S. Spivak from Focus Gallery, 201.275.5323, [email protected]