With a daily routine that is full of surprises, risks and paradoxes, reality demands circus skills. The current topography of events is not for amateurs: you have to contort, balance, sometimes perform magic, and almost always laugh at yourself. It is as if the circus ring has merged with the urban space, bringing all its fascinating and challenging features.
Something similar happens with cultural institutions. In dealing with malleable matter, these organizations juggle while walking on a tightrope, navigating a free flowing environment while not imprisoning it in simplifying schemes.
It is worthwhile to think of the circus as a metaphor for cultural action. Consider, for instance, circus professionals’ ability to overcome the division between artistic languages, as it is notable in performances that combine musicality, physical ability, body expression, theatricality and aspects of the visual arts, among so many other traits. Observing this example may lead to an understanding of the organic character of culture, as well as the artificiality of its boundaries.
The circus experience suggests a new element to inspire cultural action: collective work. Anchored initially on family tradition, working methodologies that rely on cooperation and multitasking remain valid, emphasizing different types of knowledge and the networking vocation of cultural dynamics. The individual protagonist gives way to a plural conception of the sociocultural phenomenon, revealing vigorous political and ethical facets.
The growing presence of the circus in Sesc’s programming, including the fifth edition of CIRCOS – Sesc International Circus Festival, is associated with these developments. Along this path, Sesc has allowed itself to be progressively contaminated by circus teachings. In 2019, the crossing of boundaries – towards other arts, other knowledge, more people – gains prominence. More than an aesthetic option, it is a positioning within the sphere of cultural policies. After all, the relevance of artistic expressions lies in connection with worldly things, subverting conventionally drawn boundaries, taking risks and being open to contamination.
Danilo Santos de Miranda
Director of Sesc São Paulo