Photo book by Pierre Claquin was officially launched
in Dhaka at the Alliance Française last Sunday.
The book, titled "Surviving Dreams: The struggling
circuses of Bangladesh," features photographs taken
at circuses around the country over the last two years.
The French Ambassador to Bangladesh, Michel Lummaux,
was present as the Guest of Honour at the ceremony.
In his speech, the Ambassador reflected on an experience
involving circuses in Bangladesh, "We were talking
about circuses in this country with a couple of people,
both Bangladeshis, whose immediate response was, 'There
are circuses in Bangladesh?' This was followed by their
stating that any photographs taken must have been at
least thirty or forty years old, as possibly there couldn't
be any existing circuses left. It was astounding at
the people's complete ignorance of the matter, but it
also reflected the fact that the popularity of circuses
were on a wane."
On this decrease in interest, Pierre Claquin said, "Compared
to a decade ago, circuses now utilise a different outlook
altogether. Most of the shows performed during the day
follow the usual standards, but the night shows are
different. The night shows combine the regular acts
with those of traditional Bangladeshi Jatra. The focal
point here is pretty girls and women wearing skimpy
outfits. Obviously the only audience will be men, and
hence the circus is forced to lose its appeal as a family
place." He added, "I hope that this book will
work as an encouragement for people to visit these circuses.
Without further public response, they may die out, taking
with them decades of tradition."
The book features black and white snap-shots of life
and work in the circus. "I used black and white
film for this project because, especially in the case
of circuses, it is very easy to be distracted by colours,"
said the photographer. The book will be on sale at the
Alliance Française, on Mirpur Road in Dhanmondi,
and at Tribal Craft, located at Road 7A in Banani.