The Greatest Show on Earth

An international performance circus for the 21st century

The Greatest show on earth, © Nicolas Ritter

The strategies and techniques of performance art, as they were developed in the 1970s, aimed to flout the mechanisms of the market. In the meantime, the concept of performing has become an integral part of the money-making machine itself. The project “The Greatest Show on Earth” attempted to rescue performance art by integrating it into the “circus” format. As Walter Benjamin once said, reality, and not pretence, takes centre stage at the circus. The circus promotes complete self-economisation, it displays the disparate and loud, presents freaks and strangers while offering them a place of refuge. This project invited 15 internationally renowned artists and collectives from various countries to develop performances for a circus programme and put their own artistic practices to the test in this unusual form. Dancers, choreographers and performance artists experimented with dressage, eroticism, magic, acrobatics, buffoonery and ballet: Choreographer couple Florentina Holzinger and Vincent Riebeek showed an exposing trapeze act. Valérie Castan and Antonia Baehr performed their dressage act of the self, performance duo Hendrik Quast and Maika Knoblich put the relationship between man and animal to the test and contact Gonzo did a daring battle with their death machine. And the neo-Dadaist 2-person “thing”-orchestra Les Trucs had been the circus band.

Artistic directors: Anna Wagner & Eike Wittrock
Artists: Meg Stuart (US), Philippe Quesne (F), Antonia Baehr & Valerie Castan (F), Jeremy Wade (US), contact Gonzo (J), Florentina Holzinger & Vincent Riebeek (A/NL), Eisa Jocson (RP), Maika Knoblich & Hendrik Quast and others

Additional Venues:

Nanterre-Amandiers, Paris: 30. Sep. - 5. Oct. 2016


Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt am Main GmbH

Waldschmidtstraße 4

60316 Frankfurt am Main (external link, opens in a new window)