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The first time I attended a circus show was in 1996. As almost everyone in a similar show, I took some photographs and later when I exposed them I realized that, although they were not anything special, there was something in them that interested me.
After some times that I photographed the show from the spectators’ area, I managed to arrange back stage access. So from late 1996 until mid-1998 I obsessively photographed people and animals behind the scene, in shows held in Athens and Patras.

At first, circus people were wondering what I was doing there with a camera, taking pictures of things that seemed, to their opinion, not worthy to be photographed. I believe they were also wondering about what my intentions might be and in what way the pictures could be used. Some of them posed to me as if I had asked them to, smiling and trying to look nice. They were really glad when, after my first visits, I started giving them some photos of them printed on paper as a present.

After that, every time they saw me coming, they were asking if I had new photos with me. They were studying the photographs, commenting on how they looked on them or laughing if someone seemed to have some funny posture. After a while they got used to my presence in such extend, that they stopped paying attention to what I was doing. So I was able to move around and photograph as though I was invisible to them, I had become a part of the scene.

It was not my intention to photograph the show itself or the preparation behind the scene. The thing that I was interested in was to decipher the surrealistic sensation that came out of the mishmash of people and animals getting ready to enter the stage or waiting for their turn, scaffoldings and sets, musical instruments, costumes and other paraphernalia, while on stage an act was going on. But most of all, I tried to capture an inexplicable feeling I discovered in those peoples’ gaze. A gaze beyond space and time.

©  Akis Detsis