Tiny Circus & Colin Gee

I’m still here in Ontario, waiting for my U.S. visa to process, but if I were in Iowa I’d probably head to Des Moines’ Art Stop next Friday (Sept. 11) to catch Tiny Circus . In a world of larger-than-life Imax movies and Loudapaloozas, this quiet little troupe of artists is bucking trends and scaling entertainment down to the tiniest of stages.

Meet Tiny Circus, a Grinnel-based collaborative of artists and animators touring around Iowa in a vintage Airstream trailer rigged up with a projector screen. As Betsy Arant explains in this month’s issue of The Iowa Source (click here for her article) , the group uses stop-animation to produce quirky two- or three-minute films detailing "histories" (e.g. "The History of Hiccups," The History of Staring Contests," etc.). Here’s one now:




The grassroots Tiny Circus is developing quite a following in Iowa, and one can easily imagine the Airstream cruising beyond the cornfields to popular acclaim in other states. Who knows, perhaps it’ll wind its way as far as New York, NY, where a former Iowan regularly hosts his own tiny circus at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Everyone remember Colin Gee ? He went to school here in Fairfield and has since gone on to have a multifaceted career in the arts, serving as principal Clown for the Cirque Du Soleil, co-artistic director of NYC’s award-winning Flying Machine theatre company, and now, Artist in Residence at the Whitney (read more about Colin’s career here ). 

Colin’s "Whitney Live" performances were well summed up by the New York Times: "Colin Gee’s… performances at the Whitney Museum’s current Alexander Calder exhibition are only a few minutes long. But what magic he pours into the delicate wire creations he sends whirling through the air in these minimalist circus acts: his hands, our imagination, endless possibilities." (New York Times, December 19, 2008)

Here, have a look for yourself:


Obviously, Tiny Circus and Colin Gee’s offerings are entirely different animals, but there are some similarities. The vintage/circus themes and music; the scaling back from mega to minute; the refreshing absence of surround sound, high def, and the frantic pacing that has come to represent entertainment in the 21st century. 

I’m no arts critic, but I know what I like. Readers (that’s right, I’m talking to you, Mom), I’d love to hear your thoughts. Has anyone seen either of these acts, or anything like them, live?