Janet Matthews - On the Lot
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I have been photographing carnivals for several years. Intrigued by the sense of nostalgia and romance that exists in these less than glamorous surroundings, I worked with toy cameras to try to capture the unique reality of the carnival environment. After a few years, I felt that I was ready to bring the project to a close. But then I saw the truck.
I was making my morning coffee run and noticed a truck carrying ticket booths traveling in the opposite direction. That could only mean one thing: the carnival was back in town. Something compelled me to turn around and follow that truck. It occurred to me that there was more that I wanted to explore. I just needed a fresh perspective.
I obtained permission to enter the site during the set-up and decided to concentrate on making images of the people who bring the carnival to life. Unsure as to how I would be received, I found the carnival folks to be friendly and open to sharing their lives with me and my camera. The suspicion with which I was viewed by some, faded as I developed relationships with various individuals. I visited daily and continued to visit the carnival at their next site as well as at various locations the following year. The composition of the group changed over time as individuals came and went, but the sense of community remained strong.
In starting this project, my intent was simple. I wanted to interact with the carnival community, without preconceptions, using a camera as mediator, letting circumstance determine the direction of the work.
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