The Shining Circus and its Spectators


with Emilia Kabakov

YEAR: 2004



Permanent installation, Neubau der Versicherungskammer Bayern (new building of the Bavarian Chamber of Insurance), Giesing district of Munich, Germany, since May 13, 2004 (there referred to as Der glänzende Zirkus und seine Zuschauer).

Versicherungskammer Bayern, Munich.


  1. The project consists of two parts: the central group of three personages and the balcony where four more personages— “spectators”—are located. In the central group, two of the figures are walking upwards along a slanted “beam”; moreover, the first personage is juggling four objects. The third personage is standing still down below. All the figures, including those standing on the balcony, and the structure itself are executed out of shimmering metal (but that is rather light). This can perhaps be thin anti-corrosive steel or any alloy that maintains its shine for a long time. Different parts of the figures are painted in bright colors—red, yellow and green.

  2. The dimensions of the figures: the maximum height is 2.2. meters, the minimum is 1.6 meters. The size of the central object is 5 x 4.2 at the base; the height from the ground to the uppermost end of the inclined beam is 3.2 meters. The other dimensions are indicated on the sketch.

  3. The special placement of the central object: it is arranged precisely along the central axis of the square. The figure is standing on top of the inclined beam just out beyond the front line of the façade of the buildings. Hence, people walking to work in the morning will see this figure as soon as they turn the corner. It will look as though it were “hovering” in the air.

  4. One of the sides of the balcony, as indicated in the sketch, extends (2.2 meters) at an angle from the wall of the building. In this way, it faces the main “actors” and forms a single “ensemble” along with the central group. With this, we wish to emphasize the balcony’s participation in the overall face of the city.


  1. Why is the word “shining” used in the title? Because this region of Munich consists of gray, rather standard buildings and is in need of a certain contrasting object that would “shine” against this background, that would “enliven” it. That’s why bent polished metal that will reflect the sky was chosen as the material for the object, and because along with the entire group of such objects (even though they will be located in the shadow of the building) this material will create a very powerful mirror effect.

  2. Why a “circus”? Because there is a kindergarten located just across the street, and the entire project should correspond to the children from the kindergarten. And it will also be good for the adults who pass by here every day to recall their childhood. Perhaps it will be possible later on to build similar “personages” from wood in the kindergarten.

  3. Hence, the viewers of this object will be both children and adults. But they will be joined by a “group of personages” standing on the “balcony.” In this way, the “game” is expanded to the building located next to the object, thereby uniting the architecture with the object, and thanks to this, the surrounding square and its center become the main object, an integral whole.

  4. The external appearance of the “balcony” has thin columns in its construction, the kind that are very common in older and in newly built buildings in Munich.



2004Megan BartonComment