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Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.
The Circus Motif in Contemporary Art

16. September – 03. December 2023

The first circus was founded in London towards the end of the eighteenth century, and over the following century this form of entertainment would go on to become a mass phenomenon in European urban life, exerting a lasting fascination. Today, the circus as a locus of sensual experiences and sensational extremes seems like a relic of a bygone era. But its symbolic power remains undiminished. For its inquisitive exploration of the enduring nature of humanity, and its deliberate staging of beautiful illusions alongside hard struggles, of success and failure as integral parts of human existence, can in fact tell us a great deal about today’s reality. The thematic exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Thun assembles works by contemporary artists who draw on circus motifs. In evoking its formal vocabulary and emotionality, they demonstrate how the circus with its unique repertoire offers a model for questioning our own present-day social conditions, a way to lay bare cultural power structures and marginalization as well as political and historical filters.


Artists: Kathryn Andrews, Miriam Bäckström, Istvan Balogh, Beni Bischof, Barbara Breitenfellner, Mona Broschár, Michael Dannenmann, Latifa Echakhch, Nicola Hicks, Zilla Leutenegger, Taus Makhacheva, Dieter Meier, Yves Netzhammer, Tal R, Augustin Rebetez & Martin Zimmermann, Boris Rebetez, Ugo Rondinone, Niklaus Rüegg, Francisco Sierra, Norbert Tadeusz, William Wegman


Performative contribution: Christian D. Link & Stephanie Hess

Co-curated by Helen Hirsch and Katrin Sperry


Exhibition Flyer

Press Dossier

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