Circus is a continuation and growth in Anderson & Low's studies of the relationship between the body, costume, performance and identity, which began in 1998 with the project Athletes. Shot in 2006, it features international circus performers who perform at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in England. The performers were photographed in their stage costumes and makeup in two related series -"Portraits" and "Performance".
"Portraits" examines the duality of the performer and the performance. Performers are dressed in their traditional costume but removed from their conventional performing environment and placed amongst the classic amusement park rides. Dressed to perform and entertain, the subjects are in a location incongruous to their personae. This contradiction creates a tension in the image that evokes a sense of dislocation and estrangement in the viewer.
"Performance" depicts the troupe in a more conventional environment on stage. On closer inspection of these images the power, strength, beauty and skill of the performers is revealed and devoid of context. The stark beauty lends the composition a harmonious balance and focuses the viewers' attention on the powerful relationship between the performer and performance.
Work from Circus was selected for the 2007 National Portrait Gallery Photographic Portrait exhibition, and a major exhibition of Circus took place at The Lowry in 2010.