Antonin Kratochvil: Circus Sideshow
Published by Kant.
Text by Peter Volf.
Created in 1973–74 and previously unpublished in English in its entirety, Circus Sideshow, by Czech-born American photojournalist Antonin Kratochvil (born 1947), offers an amazing pageant of tightrope walkers, jugglers, snake women, giants, dwarves, contortionists and fire eaters at a circus in Gibsonton, Florida, a small coastal town near Tampa.
The town was then known as a winter vacation hotspot for circuses, a place to recharge before setting out on their spring and summer cross-country tours.
Visiting the mobile homes, caravans and trailers of the performers, and walking through their narrow alleys and circus tents, Kratochvil was able to photograph freely and intimately, and his black-and-white photographs testify to his vision of them as people expelled from society, but [who] were able to maintain their dignity. In 1974 he sent his photographs to the New York editorial office of American Photo, which the magazine’s art director, Jean-Jacques Naudet, printed as a ten-page report. Circus Sideshow documents an amazing lost American subculture.