For centuries, clowns have performed in street parades and circuses  to make people laugh. However, theses creepy portraits of retired clowns from Europe will wipe the smile off anyone you sees them. The “Clownville” series by photographer Eolo Perfido looks at the fear of these characters: coulrophobia. 

Do you like clowns or were you scared of them when you were a child?

I’ve never been afraid of them.

Why did you make a series on these rather frightful- looking characters?

I’ve been always interested in clowns and in any performing art form that uses the artist’s body and gestures to exaggerate emotional truths that could not be conveyed through speech. I was inspired by actors like Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, by many movies, novels and comics. As you can imagine I’ve a huge collection of clown-re- lated memorabilia. So it was natural at a certain point of my career to imagine a personal project dedicated to the clowns.

Your series is called “Clownville”. Is that the name of a place?

Clownville is an imaginary place; it’s a land where everybody is a clown. Throughout my travels there, I simply asked to some of the residents to be photographed.

Are the models in the photos real clowns?

Some of them are, others are people from the entertain- ment industry or from some cultural enviorment. Some of them are just friends or stranges I’ve met. 

What is the message behind the photographs?

I think that the circus world and the clown’s world in particular is like a meta- phor of our own society: an “interconnected” world where everybody wants to entertain and be enter- tained, behind which great sadness and loneliness are hidden. I think the image of the clown represents people today in a good way: creatures wearing a mask that is tragic, grotesque and often ambiguous.