by Ralph Rugoff
Photographs by Debra DiPaolo and Mark Lipson
220 pages / November 1995 / 9781859840030
“A carnival of New World wonders.”—Jon Savage
Circus Americanus is a riotous excursion through America’s changing visual landscape. Exploring its remote corners and bizarre byways, Ralph Rugoff takes us on a tour of theme park slums and mystical police cars, futurist war and the “aesthetics of safe chaos.” With an idiosyncratic eye for detail, he maps a culture in which “reality” has become just another theme, revealing an America much stranger than the glamorous kitsch of its surfaces. Whether he is writing about Las Vegas casinos, forensic cartoons, the enigma of Napoleon’s preserved penis or the aesthetics of sewage treatment, Rugoff considers everyday marvels with a concern for how we live together in a world beyond belief.
“Ralph Rugoff delights his readers with his customarily dizzying range and perennially deft sensibility but also with something more unusual, a real sense of discretion.”
“As millenarian Western time loops, Ralph Rugoff presents a carnival of New World wonders: yesterday and tomorrow today.”
“Ralph Rugoff gives us the critic as expert tracker, with brilliant flair for the vivid scene. By turns funny and alarming, affectionate and macabre, his writing is filled with thoughtful asides on the way we live now.”