Inside the Live Reptile Tent
A Preview

Before the Magic Kingdom and Six Flags, there was the travelling carnival and traditional amusement park. Humble by today's standards, this institution still retains its stronghold on the American psyche: weekend excursions with the family, cotton candy and corn dogs, towering metal contraptions with names like 'The Zipper', unwinnable ring tosses.

Even if the carnival and traditional amusement park are not quite what they used to be, they linger in a collective memory that is perhaps closer than we think.

Jeff Brouws - among the most accomplished colour photographers of our time - captures the half-experienced, half-remembered landscape of the American carnival and amusement park midway in over 80 resplendent photographs. Temporary architecture, gravity-defying amusement rides, brightly coloured booths, the beseeching barkers - all are preserved by Brouw's lense in the perpetual twilight of the midway. Dozens of historical photographs from such great Farm Security Administration photographers as Jack Delano, Russell Lee, Ben Shahn, Marion Post Wolcott and Arthur Rothstein accompany cultural historian Bruce Caron's vivid text.

Inside the Live Reptile Tent is a journey to the heart of American recreation, where once beat the pulse of every weekend and holiday adventure. Whether 100 years old or as new as fresh paint, the carnivals and amusement parks seen here will delight those who cherish their memories. And the rest will get a taste of the thrills still out there.


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