Photographer Paolo Ventura’s new book “Winter Stories” follows an old circus performer’s visions as he looks back on his life during his final moments. Wonderfully, Ventura built the protagonist’s haunting and melancholy world with his own bare hands, constructing incredibly detailed miniature sets from props he collected at flea markets, and then photographed them to appear life-size. The result is a dark but beautifully evocative narrative series—and a fantastic follow-up to Ventura’s last book, War Souvenir—that will keep its audience coming back again and again. The book includes several plates, as well as Ventura’s pre-build sketches and polaroids, along with an essay by Eugenia Parry.
What the circus performer remembers are not moments of great drama, rather, they’re fleeting glimpses of his day to day. Some are particularly unique to his own existence—scenes occupied, in turns, by a tightrope walker, a sword swallower, a stilt walker, a clown, and a fire-eater—but many are universal: the early morning light washing over a bare room, the view of a street corner after a movie lets out, the first snow of the season, the full moon’s effect on a dark corner.