Israeli photographer Michal Chelbin has a great book out through Aperture, “Strangely Familiar: Acrobats, Athletes and Other Traveling Troupes,” which focuses, as you might guess, on small town performers, entertainers and athletes from Eastern Europe, England, and Israel.
I’m not in love with the book because it’s full of pictures of “circus freaks.” That’s been done and I don’t find it interesting or exotic-in fact, I expected not to like the book for that reason. What I ended up falling for was the unexpected intimacy of Chelbin’s photos and the intimacy between the people in them. The acknowledgment of the fantasy the performers must create, and how that fantasy changes when it’s in a different environment, and how it can change a different environment, is enchanting.
(I love this boy. He’s from Ukraine. Questions about life there? Ask him.)