The New Circus is an architectural manifesto that looks at a new form of building performance in the city.
The circus is a public forum for indulging in the desire for the grotesque. The chance of bodily dismemberment and even brushes with death create the entertainment. While this kind of gore is, in life outside of scripted performance, conventionally distasteful, here the possibility of such horror is permitted to openly generate pleasure in the audience. The audience is comfortable with this arrangement. Trapeze artists and tightrope walkers threaten to plummet unforgiveable distances from seemingly flimsy cords, lion tamers confront the bloodthirsty Carnivore itself. Clowns and human oddities on display flaunt the absurd, the disfigured, the deformed.
In the circus setting, there is a clear boundary between audience and performer. The experience is an emotional one, and sensory overload is used to mesmerize the viewer through alternating demonstrations of danger and mystery. The circus disguises its horror behind a mask of mirth and merriment. In walking the line between beautiful and evil, The New Circus poses to address the stagnancy of the generic tourist city.
Tourism, on rising levels since the Industrial Revolution, generates cities’ desires to create entertainment spaces. The contemporary city continues to undergo transformation into a tourist spectacle. Cities vie for attention; each seeks to lure tourist herds to their lair. The resulting output welcomes flashy facades, lights galore, and some could even say a touch of trashiness, that strives to embody or create an essence of a city. Here, the spectacle has become organized and almost formulaic, in a sense almost marginalizing the actual inhabitants of the city. In the process of regeneration there is a standardization of architectural and attractions development…dubbed International Blandscapes and Generica.
The new circus, a ‘guerilla’ circus, constantly in motion, constantly in performance, will expose the entire spectrum of circus preparation and construction. It will impose itself on the city, diminishing previously rigid boundaries between performance and spectator, allowing for a less passive indulgence in the carnivalesque grotesque and horror. Here, the ‘cast’ and ‘characters’ of the circus are multifold: theatrical performers, acrobats, animals, technicians and construction workers become a part of a new performance, a new circus that continually rebuilds itself as it travels throughout the city (and elsewhere…). The constant reconstruction is a central part of the performance.