Reiner Riedler
Russian Circus

Reiner Riedler takes a look behind the scenes of an institution: the Russian National Circus. He accompanied the artists and acrobats on several journeys through the country at a time when the great days of the Russian circus seemed to be long gone. These are intimate snapshots of a sunken world that tell of pride and hope in equal measure, but also of fears for the future and the uncertainties in a breathlessly transforming country. Jens Lindworsky accompanied Riedler on his explorations; his text traces the people and this fantastic, contradictory place - and reveals the story(s) of the circus in Russia, which has lost none of its magic to this day.

Circus - how much magic lies in this word, what a dreamlike aura envelops us when we enter the darkened tent and look for a place in the circle of spectators. The air in the tent seems to be different, here snake charmers, fakirs, jugglers, wild beasts, ladies without abdomens and lion men have left their scent. Between colourful tarpaulins and painted wooden stalls, it has endured, this strange, fascinating and somewhat eerie counter-world of the travelling folk, the snake people, fire-breathers, fortune-tellers and magicians. This is the archetype of the spectacle, whose roots cannot be fathomed because they lie in a time that did not yet know writing. The term for this spectacle still comes from ancient Greece: kirkos, the circle.

Russia's special path began in 1924, when Lenin declared the circus a national affair and sent Russia's artists on an unprecedented flight of fancy. Circus tents were abolished, and instead a total of 70 permanent houses were built in larger cities, often with flats, stables and rehearsal stages. In 1927, the world's first state school for artists began operations in Moscow. At times, there were over a hundred applicants for one training place, and scouts scouted schools for talent. The level of training still sets standards today. Russian circus - that stood for sold-out houses and artistic excellence. Stars like the clowns Yuri Nikulin or Oleg Popov were folk heroes. The shows had a permanent place on television, the artists lived in the best hotels, earned more than doctors and were entitled to a lavish pension and spa treatment after only 15 years of work.

Excerpt from the book by Jens Lindworksy

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RUSSIAN CIRCUS - a photobook by Reiner Riedler

Vienna Mini Press / Edition 5Haus
1st edition
ISBN 978-3-9504721-9-6 
Edition 5Haus
5Haus Media GmbH

Concept Coverdesign
Vienna Mini Press: Katja Hasenöhrl Concept, design
Vienna Mini Press: Ana Iankova
Printing and binding: Finidr, Český Těšín Printed in Czech Republic
Editing: Stefan Schlögl

2021 by 5Haus Media GmbH Copyright 

Price: 15,00 €