Spring 2009 Senior Thesis Exhibition

Melissa Simser


The carnival is a very surreal and beautiful place. For me, ever present is the separation I feel from everyone else in the crowd. I am fascinated by the exhilaration and enthusiasm that other people seem to have for the manufactured and chaotic atmosphere. The photographs in this series are about the unease this "sense of removal" creates within me.

The carnival is meant to be eye-catching, so that even a passing glance is alluring. I chose to photograph during the darkest hours of the night because the black sky illustrates the distrust and awe that I feel. To me, the black sky is a void waiting to be filled with lights, rides, and games: distractions and pleasure.

Melissa Simser Melissa Simser Melissa Simser Melissa Simser Melissa Simser Melissa Simser

Melissa Simser


I let the people remain almost anonymous, hidden by distance or silhouette, or completely absent altogether. Portraits weren't appropriate for what I wanted to capture. Although I am entranced with the idea of the "carnie" and the lifestyle and personality that the word implies, it was the scene containing the "carnie" that I wanted to depict. The scene, that to me, seemed fascinating and ethereal and that to everyone else is no more that a blur.

All of my photographs observe something, or someone, that stood out to me amongst the insanity of the colorful surroundings. They were taken from a vantage point removed from the situation itself, from the outside looking in, a perspective not usually experienced by carnival-goers. When the viewer is able to slow down and contemplate; it is from this perspective that the beauty and mystery of the carnival is unveiled.


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