Every summer, SF Camerawork hosts an open call for entries around a topical and contemporary theme. This year’s theme is the circus. In the show, an international group of artists presents a wide range of photographic interpretations of the word “circus.” Together they portray the cultural, historical, and metaphorical reach of the circus in our collective imagination.

Photographers were encouraged to interpret this subject in a multitude of fashions, and true to form, the results play with the theme in surprising and striking ways. Photographer Jay Turner Frey Seawell, in particular, has massaged the idea to include the contemporary political sphere that is dominating the attentions of many Americans (and others around the world) on a daily basis. His images of the press poke fun at the frenzy of our modern news environment while offering real perspective (and opinions) on its necessarily inhuman nature.

Taking the theme literally, Rachael Jablo shoots enigmatic, atmospheric scenes in and around circus tents. The spaces she photographs are not meant for the public eye—rather than focusing on the stage or the performers, her lens captures quiet backstage areas and sagging rigging. Her images are less concerned with performance and more with illusion and the mechanics behind the spectacle.

The show includes 17 artists in total. Their work was selected by jurors Linde Lehtinen (Assistant Curator of Photography, SFMOMA). Paloma Shutes (Photography Editor, California Sunday Magazine), and Arthur Tress (documentary surrealist photographer). If you’re in San Francisco over the next month, be sure to stop by.


Editors’ note: Circus is on view at SF Camerawork from July 13-August 19, 2017. Below is a full list of the artists whose work is being shown:

Ty’ler Banks (Berkeley, CA)
Michele Brancati (Koln, Germany)
Agathe Catel (Montpellier, France)
Susan Felter (Oakland, CA)
Kimberly Gremillion (Houston, TX)
Rachael Jablo (Berlin, Germany)
Michael J. Lessner (Tiburon, CA)
Vanessa Marsh (Oakland, CA)
Kari Orvik (San Francisco, CA)
Wiesje Peels (Netherlands)
Anna Rotty (San Francisco, CA)
Norma Quintana (Napa, CA)
Jay Turner Frey Seawell (Washington, DC)
Jean Sousa (Chicago, IL)
Paul Turounet (Cardiff, CA)
Sarah Windels (Oakland, CA)
Vanessa Woods (Pacifica, CA)