Receiving hope and resilience within the Senegalese circus school

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Portrait of Humanity Series winner Claudia Gschwend’s project about Sencirk circus is a powerful portrait of dynamic joy

In Sept 2020, a friend working for a circus charity in Swiss called Claudia Gschwend using an idea. The charity was initially shipping a container brimming with donated circus equipment to help Sencirk, a circus university in Dakar, and she doubted it if Gschwend would like to post the process? The photographer was in fact fascinated and committed to the project immediately. However , Covid-19 complicated coordinating the projects and it took four weeks to obtain letters supporting the work in the embassy in London. The piece of writing confirming their entry to be able to Senegal came just one day before the flight. “I were required to trust my intuition together with was hoping for a miracle, ” Gschwend remembers.

Thankfully each fell into place, along with the photographer arrived in Dakar here in January 2021, where jennifer went on to spend three months at Sencirk. “Every year we visited the show tent and other locations to find out all about their projects, ” she describes. “I compiled as much material as I could and was editing over eight weeks when I returned to London. ”

© Claudia Gschwend, Portrait of Humanity Volume. 4 Series Winner.

Modou Touré, a circus specialist and former child guttersnipe, founded Sencirk, keen to make disadvantaged young people the opportunity to add on self-confidence in the dynamic backdrop ? setting of the circus. Today, practically 30 artists train normal in the Sencirk tent, in addition to Touré’s team work on further projects in hospitals and even institutions across the country. “It’s a residential area built on resilience: a team of young people working through shared trauma who are strengthened by way of a potential to overcome it in concert, ” the photographer relates.

Gschwend’s portraits are technically striking, rendered in shiny colours and high distinction. Her subjects balance upon one another or cast figures against the backdrop of a clean blue sky, their strength together with athleticism palpable. The photographer adopted a low vantage level, looking up at the performers to generate a sense of majesty and electrical power, an effect enhanced by the lavish costumes and crowns that a lot of them wear in the images. “It was important to others to take the portraits in a manner that gave space to highlight the initial features of each of these amazing music artists, ” Gschwend explains.

“It’s all about the magic from a short moment: to capture someone’s emotions and authenticity. ”

~ Claudia Gschwend

Now, 11 years within her career, photography consistently challenge and delight Gschwend. “It’s my way of getting started bridges with communities and also individuals, ” she says. “It’s all about the magic of a brief moment: to capture someone’s thoughts and authenticity. Creating this memory with a photograph, plus telling a story with it, will be really powerful. ”

The range will be exhibited at PHOTO22 in Melbourne as one of the winning trades of Portrait of Humanity’s Series awards. “I touch extremely honoured and pleased to receive this award, due to the meaningful theme and the great standard set by preceding years, ” reflects Gschwend. “I’ve learnt so much within this project, and it’s fabulous to see how the journey is without a doubt continuing. It’s amazing to get additional recognition and being able to tv show it to a broader group of buyers. ” 

© Claudia Gschwend, Portrait of Humanity Vol. 4 Series Winner.

Recognition for the work is rather meaningful to Gschwend specific the underlying theme of the mission. “For me, the Sencirk circus, and this series, are usually about hope, ” she says. “This circus community offers young people something to aspire to, a chance to dream and to find joy.   In my little brown eyes, a strong community helps individuals with the struggles in our way of life and our mental well being. ”

Portrait of Humanity celebrates that which unites us during thrashing times, and the strength and additionally courage that are to be found between our fellow humans. Right now in its fifth edition, the latest iteration of the award can be open for entries till 14th July 2022.

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