Swedish-born photographer Bertil Nilsson has worked for 5 years with circus artists throughout Europe and North America to explore and document contemporary circus from a novel perspective. Undisclosed: Images of the Contemporary Circus Artist is the result of Bertil's collaboration with 47 circus artists, including some of today’s and tomorrow’s most exciting performers in this rapidly expanding field.
The black and white images of the performers, all naked, working on their skills in training spaces, are accompanied by an essay by writer and curator Laura Noble and a foreword by acclaimed circus creator Daniele Finzi Pasca. The project represents a unique snapshot of the circus community, exploring a multitude of acrobatic and aerial disciplines through a common visual thread.
A lot of energy has been spent on achieving a truly beautiful book with an elegant and refined design where no decision, from paper to reproductions, has been left to chance. It is available in a first edition limited to 1000 copies.
What were your ambitions and aspirations at the age of 26?
I had to think hard to try to remember where I was at 26, but I guess my main aspiration was to become a well-respected photographer. This was right at the beginning of the most intensive phase of creating the material for Undisclosed. I already had the clear idea it was going to be a book and I was going to finish it no matter what. I have always been really good at starting lots and lots of projects since I was very young, but never been quite as good at finishing them. I made a promise to myself I was going to follow through with this project no matter the resistance or rejections and see what happened if I didn't let myself get distracted. With the entire project, if I'm proud of anything it is following through with the idea.
Pick a word beginning with 'C' that best sums you up...
For each letter of the alphabet, pick a word followed by a sentence that inspires you...
Always up for an adventure, big or small.
Best meal of the day.
Incredibly fascinating art form which inspires my work.
If I had the talent, I wish I could have been a dancer.
Been my home for the past 6 years, apart from a couple of months south of the river.
Film has always been important in my life. Before I stumbled into photography, I worked in film production briefly.
Essential in my life.
Love the smell of fresh ink in the morning.
Best time of the year.
Bought one when I went to Japan in 2006 but never worn it since.
You can always learn something new, especially when you think you know everything about something.
I want to master everything I do, which can lead to some frustration.
Best. thing. ever.
I went to music school for several years in my youth, but I'm decidely unskilled at music.
I love etching my own plates and hand pulling prints on a press - it is physical and time consuming work but very rewarding.
Always more important than quantity.
I love patterns and structures.
My native land.
I'm fascinated by shooting underwater and it is something I will be exploring more in the future.
If the saying 'you are what you eat' had any truth to it, I would be a vegetable by now.
Much too unevenly distributed which is not good for anyone.
Reminds me of my roots as a computer programmer.
I'm learning to say no.
Striking organic design.
Undisclosed is published by Canalside Books and can be ordered via undisclosedcircus.com or from specialist photography book stockists for £35.
See more of Bertil's work at bertil.co.uk