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Rachel Murphy

2012

Photography & Digital Arts

I received the Sarah Peter Fellowship and decided to pursue my life-long interest in “sideshows,” a group of performance acts that showcase human oddities and feature crowd-pleasing feats such as sword swallowing and walking on glass. 

It started in August of 2010, when I attended sideshow school in Coney Island, NY. Based on this experience, I realized that I wanted to spend my fellowship documenting myself learning new sideshow acts. As research, I took in sideshow performances in Old City, Philadelphia; Salem, MA; and Washington, DC. I also filmed my own live performance as part of a sideshow by graduates of the Coney Island Sideshow School.
This experience has inspired me to become the art instead of making the art. I’m trying to make my art come alive on different levels because I find that the living acts are more visually striking and valid than a flat photograph on the wall.