by Anna Carnick
Photographer Paolo Venturaâ€™s new book "Winter Stories" follows an old circus performerâ€™s visions as he looks back on his life during his final moments. Wonderfully, Ventura built the protagonistâ€™s haunting and melancholy world with his own bare hands, constructing incredibly detailed miniature sets from props he collected at flea markets, and then photographed them to appear life-size. The result is a dark but beautifully evocative narrative series—and a fantastic follow-up to Venturaâ€™s last book, War Souvenir—that will keep its audience coming back again and again. The book includes several plates, as well as Venturaâ€™s pre-build sketches and polaroids, along with an essay by Eugenia Parry.
What the circus performer remembers are not moments of great drama, rather, theyâ€™re fleeting glimpses of his day to day. Some are particularly unique to his own existence—scenes occupied, in turns, by a tightrope walker, a sword swallower, a stilt walker, a clown, and a fire-eater—but many are universal: the early morning light washing over a bare room, the view of a street corner after a movie lets out, the first snow of the season, the full moonâ€™s effect on a dark corner.
Limited to just 2000 copies, the book is available now at Amazon and Aperture for $89. Also check out New Yorkâ€™s Hasted Hunt Kraeutler Gallery, which will exhibit Winter Stories in December 2009.