Urtė Sakalytė
www.kamane.lt , 2009 09 28

In brief: The New Circus Weekend’ 09 was held in Vilnius Arts Printing House on the 11th – 13th of September. Its poster did not invite parents with children to see bears, lions or acrobatic show. There were no elaborate words or shining colours. The graphical shaping of the photograph silently, but eloquently spoke about aesthetics but not the carnival.

The programme of the New Circus Weekend consisted of two performances (“Slough” and “Old Road Circus”) and educational programme.
Human mind is not capable to objectively assess things unless some kind of comparison method is used. So, this time it is very convenient to compare two different forms of circus – traditional and new.

None form of art can exist autonomously, only speaking to itself. Contemporary art usually has not only aesthetic but also social level. The dialogue with the viewer can only happen when it reflects political and social life of the society and asks questions. New circus appeals to this assumption.

New circus purposefully formulates ideas that have strong social and psychological basis. By the means of movement, graphics or colour the artists convey global problems – war, poverty, hunger. New circus moves to the halls, streets and screens. It comes closer to the audience, becomes public art.

The absurdity of life is reflected purposefully, paying attention to the problems and not how to forget them. Let’s say, the rebirth of circus clowns: they do not make laugh, their jokes are angry, usually cruel, they perform paedophiles or serial killers. They do not create fiction of life, but present its interpretation. Though in symbolic form, the viewer is confronted with the reality of his life.

Most of the performances of new circus are mono disciplinal. They present not many circus acts, but unveil one specific theme. Therefore they are more conceptual, more attention is paid to body plastics, scenography of the performance, lightning.

The director of “Slough” has created ephemeral view where a live body intangibly intertwines with body parts of mannequin. One is obliged to understand the narrowness of their sight. The performance sometimes seems as an art installation, however the plot is more resemble to the theatre genre. It seems like a theatre with the elements of circus.

While watching “Slough” and listening to the theorists of new circus a thought arises that differences between old and new circus still exist. It would not be true to say that traditional circus does not have goals or ideas, but it usually creates absurdity without understanding it itself.

Old circus was always a part of pop culture. It tries to meet the requirements and demands of consumer society and it becomes fearfully phantasmagorical.

The biggest problem is that the supply forms the demand. If you want aesthetics one can be offered balloons, feathers, white doves and girls with hoops, monkeys with colourful costumes – all bouquet of eclectics and kitsch.

It is absurdly strange that its objective audience are kids – the most vulnerable social layer. Inappropriately coded symbols, irresponsibly chosen themes destroy not only the need for more subtle forms of culture but perhaps the whole moral basis and system of values.

A thought comes in summarising the ideas about the events of New Circus Festival that traditional circus is not bad itself, but it lacks professional attitude, aesthetics and cultural education. Therefore the performances usually become like tasteless carnival. A wish is that a circus would be not only spectacular, interesting and funny, but also a little bit meaningful.

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