Like a bird

Johanna Maria Fritz

2015 - Ongoing

Afghanistan; Iran; Palestinian Territory; Dagestan, Russia

Iran, Afghanistan and Palestine. Three places that are known for their dreary political character - for difficult living conditions. Right there, the inhabitants of these countries have developed a circus culture that is not comparable to the rest of the world. From political clowns in Gaza who are trying to deliver a performance that reflects the absurdity of living on the front line between Hamas and the IDF, circus schools wanting to give Afghan children an alternative route, the old tradition of tightrope walkers in the north caucasus (dagestan) and Iran, where Circus does not want to forget the fun in an Islamic dictatorship. This is what this work is about: "Like a bird," a boy's quote about his circus life represents the essence of the work.

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  • Abdallah (24) and his whole family have been working as circus riders for generations. They have a farm a bit outside the Gaza City and give daily shows for free on the beach. Gaza City, Palestine 2016.

  • Everdyday The MobileMiniCirCus trains kids in IDP camps in and around Kabul. The boys team is posing for the photo during training in Qali Barri Camp. Kabul, Afghanistan 2016.

  • These young boys came to watch the girls performing. Nadia (13) and Rabia (14) grew up with the circus and have been training for a long time. Kabul, Afghanistan 2016.

  • Mohamed (15) is one of the circus students at the MMCC circus in Kabul. The school holds daily training sessions in different camps and villages all over Afghanistan. Each camp or village constitutes a little team and a so-called „Funtainer“ (their name for the shipping containers they use). Mohamad is from a village in the mountains, a five minute drive just outside of Kabul. Qali Qazi, Afghanistan 2016.

  • Fidel (31) & Chicho (32)  are working as clowns and acrobats in the circus. Velayat Park in Tehran, Iran September 2017.

  • Circus Audience in Zanjan, Iran September 2016.

  • Majed Kallub (26) poses on stilts and with juggling culls in front of the Gaza Circus School building in the city district Betlaahya in Gaza city while a pickup truck full off Hamas fighters passes by. Gaza, Palästina 2017.

  • Schoolchildren and their teachers wait in line to enter the Khalil Oghab circus. The circus was founded 1991 by the so-called “Hercules from Persia”, Khalil Oghab. The circus offers female visitors a very rare oppurtunity – to enjoy a moment of freedom, momentarily escaping the claws of the misogynistic Mullas in the islamic dictatorship of Iran. Tehran, Iran, February 2016.

  • Mohammad Abu Sakha is currently being detained in a military prison in Israel. He worked as a circus artist and teacher in the Palestinian Circus School in Ramallah. He was arrested at the end of the year 2015 without any apparent reason. On the photo he is seen stretching at his room in Birzeit, Palestine 2015.

  • Shortly after the daily training in an IDP camp, the older circus kids get together for some horse play. One student is doing a handstand in the field behind the Qulbargi camp. Kabul, Afghanistan 2017.

  • On the way back from Band-e-Amir, the two buses (girls and boys separated) take a break at the little river. The kids have to let off steam during the long rides along Afghanistans horrible roads. Photo taken somewhere between Band-e-amir and Bamyan, Afghanistan 2017.

  • The circus students from Bamyan City and Yakawlang have just met. It is rare that in spacious country of Afghanistan, where overland trips on the bad roads are long and strenuous that circuses from different provinces or cities get to meet. Together they juggle the main road up and down, then it's finally time for the big performance. A few men are sitting on the roofs and gaze down on the performance on the village square. The village women are sitting on the wall of the dam, watching the spectacle from the sidelines Yakawlang, Bamyan province, Afghanistan 2017.

  • Besan is a 21 year old clown doctor in Gaza City. She is working as one of two female clown doctors in the strip and one day bopes to become a journalist. For her it is most important to see children happy. She lives with her family in Noserat Camp close to the city. The house is an oasis in the camp, with a small but dashing green garden and a beautiful house. Her family is supporting her Job and studies. The photo was taken in April 2016 in Gaza.

  • Girls in the circus school in Ogni, Dagestan, Russia 2018.

  • Aminka (13) during training in the old philharmonic of Makhachkala the capital of dagestan, russia 2018.

  • The Mountain road to Karachi, Dagestan, Russia 2018.

  • Patimat (8) right before here training with the neighbor and teacher Mogamed Alibegov (63) in Karachi, Dagestan, russia 2018.

  • Sarifa (18) and Salina (14) during their training in the circus school of Ogni. Dagestan, Russia 2018

  • Patimat (9) and Patimat (8) on the rope Karachi, Dagestan, russia 2018.