Bertil Nilsson


A Naked Circus

My friend Jason Landry, owner of Panopticon Gallery in Boston, shared a remarkable photo book with me. The title of the book is “Undisclosed – Images of the Contemporary Circus Artist” by Bertil Nilsson. Jason explained to me that he first saw Bertil’s work, as well as the book, at this years’ Lens Culture FotoFest Paris portfolio review.

The book, naturally, contains Bertil’s photographs of the circus artists. What makes this book unique is the fact that the artists are photographed entirely in the nude. Bertil shoots the artists mostly performing in empty rehearsal studios. The artists are performing with – at most – a pole or a rope hanging from the ceiling. Their bodies spin, swirl, and fly with amazing grace and fluidity all the while executing a variety of near-impossible acrobatic movements. Bertil’s photographs freeze the action at a crucial moment that captures both the incredible strength and sensuous flow of the artist’s bodies in motion.

It is to Bertil’s credit that he chose not to shoot the artists hiding under elaborate circus costumes and makeup. The fact that the images are shot in black and white and that the settings are so spartan allows the viewer to appreciate the naked, athletic beauty of the artist’s bodies and the wondrous things that they can do with them.

From Bertil Nilsson’s website:
This book is the result of my work with 47 circus artists throughout Europe and North America over the course of 5 years. The black and white images of the performers, all naked, working on their skills in empty training spaces, are accompanied by an essay by photography writer and gallerist Laura Noble and a foreword by acclaimed circus creator Daniele Finzi Pasca.

Just the Facts:
Undisclosed – Images of the Contemporary Circus Artist
Bertil Nilsson
Text in English and French
29 x 25 cm / 11.5 x 9.75 in.
 140 pages, 92 black and white photographs
Printed in The Netherlands in duotone offset
Canalside Books

You can see more of Bertil’s work here.