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Saibal Das | Artist’s statement

Circus

The circus. A world of colours. Festoons, confetti and shades of glitz. But Saibal has captured this world of fantasy in simple black and white. Why?
Perhaps because his interest lies not in the world of illusion but in the real one behind the scenes, where living and surviving is far more tougher than triple somersaults on the trampoline. Circus life through Saibal’s lens reveals poignant human moments. The girl who performs with the lioness in the ring is seen sitting in front of a mirror putting on her make up.

The lioness, whom she whips in the ring, stands up behind her, the paw touching the girl’s shoulder affectionately. Both have a very solemn look. The cage is around them, the cage of society where each and every move is open to scrutiny.

Saibal shoots another female performer sitting on her props, looking at the snack packets strewn on the ground. The show is over, the giant marquee is empty, but the girl stares into the distance. A single false step or an indiscreet move might end her career; there will be no claps, no whistles.

Wandering from one place to another, their life of circus performers is filled with contradictory events. One moment there is stardom and the next is wrapped in gloom. They yearn for conventional family life but to survive they must put on that costume, ride up that ladder, fly through the air on a trapeze and tie their knot with the circus party. Their task is to provide fantasy and temporary escape for others, but who will provide a fairy tale moment for them?
From ‘Circus Life: Saibal Das Snaps Life from a Trapezium’ by Nayyara Noor.