• Images

Along came the clown

The suburban train had been rushing for a long time. And it was boring to sit in it. The gloomy landscape of suburban settlements which no longer were the countryside but had not become a town yet did not cast a smile and bring joy. The doors were opening and closing. Gloomy people came in and out. Their faces were the same for some reason, one would not want to memorize them. Mishka told me 'Don't look aside so gloomily, dive into a book. It may be interesting there.' But I did not at all want to go into a book.

And suddenly I felt with the back of my head that the air in the coach had changed. Something started happening in the direction opposite to my eyes. 'Why do not I still know a thing?', I had a quick thought. And I started turning my head slowly so that not to frighten away an exciting moment.

First I saw a heap of colourful balloons. They were hanging merrily on thin threads swinging back and forth. All of a sudden one of them, the red and the glossy one left the pile and almost sang in a thin shaky voice 'And thi-i-i-i-is is for you not to feel bored.' I simply twisted my neck inside out and finally saw that it was a boney girl in a bright motley clown's garment who was holding the red glossy balloon, and it was her hand offering it to the man. 'Now he will tell her to go to hell' I thought. And I did not guess it right. The red face suddenly beamed and started radiating some faraway thought.

The work of Irina Rumyantseva, Russia, St. Petersburg

'Take, take it. It is for you. It is a gift. Just a gift', sang the voice. And the hand was gifting balloons here and there. 'And if there is not enough for me', I felt scared. And I wanted to jump to my feet and run towards the voice. But real Mishka caught me on the elbow and murmured sarcastically, 'Haven’t you ever seen balloons?' Fortunately, the balloons were already close to us. The whole bunch was in the hands of a gigantic red-haired clown. He was simply smiling and mysteriously silent. And the girl was singing handing me a balloon, yellow and sun-like. 'It is for you-u-u-u-u!!!' Mishka got a green one like a juicy spring leaf which had just been washed by the rain. My poisonous friend smiled back at the red-haired clown and firmly seized the thin string, observing in amazement the back of the clown’s head leaving ahead.

'Do you know why?’, he asked me for unknown reason, in a whisper and without his usual grin. But I didn't answer, charmed and watching the unfamiliar coach, which was now radiating and sparkling. Beautiful faces looked from behind the balloons. They were different - elderly and young, merry and lost. The coach became colourful and approached the station wheezing merrily. We got out of it following the clowns. And in astonishment watched them entering the next coach with their balloons. And the coach immediately started off running away from us slowly. Their balloons waggled their high-forehead heads to ours in a friendly way and disappeared. We also exchanged glances, started laughing and rushed home, for some reason at a run.

11th Moscow fetival, 2010, the work of the team «CD shar», Russia, Moscow

Instead of afterword

However ludicrous they are in their multicolour garments, with white faces, the clowns are always loved by all people. This acting profession has a long history. It includes many famous people, has its own traditions and special features which few people think about. Their ancestors – skomorokhs (travelling actors and ministrels), court jesters and harlequins - served tsars and kings, were bond slaves of landlords. They wandered round the world in street actors' caravans. And it was just two hundred years ago when they became professional actors of all famous world circuses. But at all times clowns have always caught everyone’s eye, making people smile or burst out laughing. All of them became a laughing stock on purpose. And that is why at all times their role had seemed unfortunate and unserious. However, the names of Moliere and Chaplin, Yuri Nikulin and Oleg Popov, Karandash and Vyacheslav Polunin suggest that those persons liked their chosen destiny of a comedian. Because these great people saw a special meaning in the characters of their crafty simpletons and sad crying Pierro.

Each of their white masks and red noses always hides a personality who has something to say. Maybe they are laughing to make people kinder and a bit happier? This is why children, who tirelessly wait for a happy moment every day, love clowns so much. Since the times of Moliere and Shakespeare, however, when the comedian entered dramas and became a tragic personality, he has started to do anything he wants. Our time of stress and disappointments, incurable diseases and associated tragedies has invented another mask – that of a healing clown sitting at the bedside of a hopelessly ill child or playing with him with funny air balloons.

2nd South-Russian Festival, 2014, the work of the team «Stray artists», the captain Olga Samoylova, Russia, Samara

When you start recalling faces of all clowns you have ever seen in life, for no clear reason you first of all see a clown's face and especially his mouth. It is so bright and is pouring out on you flows of words, absurd but so necessary at this point of time. Perhaps, it is no accident that those who has ever tried to create a clown's image including that out of balloons, start with a face and then finished a multicolour garment, a pose, which are supplementary and do not express the essence of this image already. Being seemingly easy, such an image finally appears to be hard to create because it is a serious person that you need to see behind standard features, a person who does everything in earnest. He laughs and cries. That is why we remember the clowns of Irina Rumyantseva, Alexander Solomatin, Olga Samoylova, Olga Baranova. Their essence is not external attributes of popular comedian actors, fancy costumes of clownery characters but the face play, sensuality of the images each having its own undertone. We are glad to remind you today of these particular works. And we believe that behind seeming simplicity and nonsense you will manage to see a profound undertone which the authors tried to input in their characters.

2nd South-Russian Festival, 2014, the works of Olga Baranova, Russia, Samara (on the left), and the team «Stray artists» (on the right), the captain Olga Samoylova, Russia, Samara