Headless in the Plaza
Camera : Leica M4 Lens : Summaron 35mm f3.5 Film : Ilford HP5 Developer : Ilford ID 11
The life of a street entertainer is a curious one. The passer-by sees only the end result; the singer and the portable amplifier / guitar / microphone, the juggler with his props. Hidden to the non-participant is the background organisation, the co-ordination, the transport arrangements for awkwardly-shaped-but-necessary pieces of equipment, the assistance from the assistants.
Setting up presents us with another range of opportunities. Most of us ignore these activities, preferring to wait until the finished product is performing in front of us before we pay any attention – and sometimes, not even then. Some of us are mildly curious. Particularly when it’s not absolutely clear what the finished product will be.
Here, the headless figure will, after a few more minutes of assisted dressing, become the Invisible Man. Encased in a framework of clothes, head and hands hidden from view, he will sit motionless in the chair, posed under the hat tied to the lamp post on the right. A pair of sunglasses suspended from the hat will help to complete the illusion. On the occasions when a passer-by is sufficiently impressed to stand, look and donate a few coins, the artist will make a novelty noise to signal his thanks. Throughout, he will remain still. Whether this is due to restrictions imposed by the clothing, posture or, perhaps most likely, the risk of becoming misaligned with the hat and sunglasses – thus ruining the “act” – is not known.
However, it’s not easy to perceive all of this just by watching the female assistant dress what appears to be an oddly proportioned very tall headless male. So we are given the chance to exercise our imagination and attempt to guess the end result, or, as someone did on this day, to simply walk by and wonder, just for a moment.