BEYOND STARLIGHT is a nearly twelve-year documentation of a traveling family circus. Since the first encounter in 2008, Petra Arnold has repeatedly traveled after the circus Starlight of August Bügler and Karin Fischer with their twelve children and now thirty-four grandchildren. With ehr analog SLR camera and on black-and-white film, she recorded life between the caravan and the circus tent.

The family grew steadily, but the circus itself shrank. In 2019, only the youngest daughter Kenya traveled with the parents, the remaining children and grandchildren went their own professional ways

German Photo Book Award in Silver

BEYOND STARLIGHT was published in 2021 by DCV-Books and was recently awarded: At the German Photo Book Award in the category “Documentary-Journalistic Photo Book” the book made it to the shortlist and thus to silver. During the course of the year, the books of the winners and nominees of the German Photo Book Award will be presented at a number of national and international exhibition venues.

Format20 x 26.5 cm
Number of Copies1000
PublisherDCV Books
Price39.90 €

No Starlight anymore

The circus has many challenges such as declining audiences, competition from virtual entertainment and large engagement circuses, and the tragedy of a lightning strike that killed nineteen animals.

Unfortunately, the circus could not cope with the Corona pandemic and August Bügler is forced to stop. The family is still in the winter quarters of 2019, the animals were recently sold and in the spring the family wants to start something else from the remaining reserves.

What remains when the final curtain falls …

Fortunately: the book remains, even when the lights finally go out. In addition to portraits and snapshots, the publication includes a family tree as well as explanatory texts and historical visual material. BEYOND STARLIGHT looks behind the scenes and observes a life between circus family and family circus – mainly away from the ring.

The images in the Changes/Wandel chapter show, on opposite pages, photographs taken at intervals of around ten years. The photographs not only deal with the personal changes that come with aging, but also document the transformation of a family and the dissolution of a milieu.

BEYOND STARLIGHT is not only the long-term documentation of a family history, but also testimony to a slowly disappearing cultural asset: the traditional family circus.

Printing houseDr. Cantz’sche Druckerei
PhotographyPetra Arnold
LayouterAlexander Münch
TextUte Maag

Find Petra Arnold online

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