Circus: A Traveling Life
Project info

For a decade, photographer Norma I.
Quintana followed an American,
traveling one-ring circus
photographing its acrobats, aerialists
and artists. Not satisfied to snap
images from the stands, Quintana
photographed her subjects in motion,
perfecting their craft. The resulting
black and white photography book,
Circus: A Traveling Life documents
the everyday lives of these
performers in “back of the house.”
The book will be launched
internationally this October.
Designed by Yolanda Cuomo of New
York and published by Damiani Editore of Bologna, Italy, it is being distributed by the
D.A.P. Artbook Catalog. It will join a universal and long-standing tradition of circus
photography, alongside the work of Diane Arbus, Jill Freedman and Edward Weston.
There is a marked intimacy in Quintana’s photographs, achieved by slowly introducing
herself into a community of performance families. As Mona Simpson, author of
Anywhere But Here, describes in her introduction to Circus: A Traveling Life, “The trust
between photographer and subject that developed over that time is evident. Quintana
took her time learning the lineage of these circus families. She presents them not as
freaks or compulsives, but as workers in a private, insular, now almost-extinct world.”
An analog photographer in the 21st century, Quintana creates rich, dynamic black and
white portraits with a medium format Hasselblad camera and an intuitive eye. She
explains how she was able to capture performance artists, in constant motion, without
the conveniences of digital photography: “I learned to trust my own vision and
imagination in the face of unforeseen events. I tried to capture these values through my
lens, just as I was captured by the circus.”