PRIVATE ACTS The Acrobat Sublime

“The practice of acrobatics is the artistic and athletic metaphor for the process
of making an impossible dream a reality.”—Harriet Heyman

Nearly twenty years ago, author and journalist Harriet Heyman enrolled her two toddlers in an acrobatics class at a hole-in-the-wall circus school in San Francisco.  Although her children’s interest in the sport faded, Heyman’s evolved into an obsession.  She’s studied the language, history, and tradition, has trained on the flying trapeze for over fifteen years, and now brings her knowledge and passion for this art form to the pages of Private Acts: The Acrobat Sublime.  In three captivating essays, Heyman describes firsthand the life-changing experience of training as an acrobat, and what motivates these artists. 

Acey Harper’s black-and-white photographs document gravity-defying acts in this collection of sensual and mesmerizing images that capture the explosive energy of acrobats.  Harper “…came to recognize them as partners and collaborators in creating theses unique images, which are part photography and part performance art.” 

PRIVATE ACTS shows these artist-athletes in a different light, liberated from the confines of the tent and stage, stripped of costumes, make-up, and body paint.  The photographs reveal the acrobats’ physical agility and raw emotions, and their beautiful, well-trained bodies captured in diverse settings across the country—from the beaches in the Marin Headlands, forests in Vermont, and the Black Rock Desert, to a gritty urban New Jersey steel mill, the streets of San Francisco, and the New York City subway.  – The book features many performers from New York City.

Although technological advancement has steered the masses away from more traditional forms of entertainment, Heyman believes there is “…a direct evolutionary line from the flesh-and-blood circus acrobats to the pulp and celluloid Superman to IMAXed Avatar.”  Acrobatics is experiencing a renaissance in contemporary popular culture and PRIVATE ACTS: THE ACROBAT SUBLIME pays homage to this art form through striking photos of artist-athletes who are passionately dedicated to their craft.

PRIVATE ACTS: The Acrobat Sublime By Harriet Heyman
Photography by Acey Harper
Hardcover / 224 pages / 9½” x 9½” / 100 photographs
Rizzoli New York      Private Acts: The Acrobat Sublime



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