The Disappearance of Media / A Manifestation of Elephants
"And their 2nd and 3rd stage of vanishing in presence of the holy ghost and other international guests, in honor of the remarkable Harry Houdini and his conducted disappearances of Jenny the Elephant and an anonymous animal trainer at the world famous New York Hippodrome on January 1918."
"You can plainly see, the animal is completely gone." (H.H. 1917)

Installation, Voorkamer, Lier, Belgium

Magic Theatre construction: Tobis Grewenig (Mechatronics) & Joost Summond (Hardware)
All other construction: Joris Ribbens
Organization: Glen Geerinck
Comissioned by Rik De Boe and Peter Morrens / Voorkamer, Lier, Belgium

images / text / movie

Disappearing Media:

The installation re-stages Harry Houdini’s famous performance "the vanishing elephant" from 1918. The magician was one of the first super stars of the early days of mass-media. Despite his reputation as a very poor if not a clumsy performer, Houdini managed to capture world-wide attention, thanks to his understanding of mass media and the resulting public relations strategies. In addition he was also famous for an odd stage routines that was build on revealing other conjurors’ tricks of other magicians.
The installation can be understood as a tribute to that remarkable king of magic but also – as a will to meet the audience’s level of expectation.- It can be read at as a tribute to reality.
The structure of the piece is meant confusing, as confusion and distraction are the keys to seduction, what again is one key that makes a magic trick work. The audience that comes to see a show knows that the magic is fake they come be betrayed. The Magician knows that the audience knows.

The work consits of 2 major parts:

1: The Performance (The Disappereance of Media)

On occasion of the opening and repeating Houdinis Trick, a living Elephant is vanished from the naked eye of the audience. This action may not be filmed or fotographed.
The performance ends with a simple Houdini quote: "You can plainly see, the animal is completely gone."

2: The installation (A Manifestation of Elephants)

The installation consist of the remainances from the performance and a 1 person magic theatre that vanishes and produces clay elephants on demand.
In addition 3 objects prepare the audience for the the theatrical moment.
1 an elephant made from iron wood by the Bostwanian sculptor Shepherd Ndudzo
2 a steroscopic image from 1926, taken by Walter Roil, displaying his studio in Patagonia
3 a misterious video by the Magic a Historian Lisa Cousins.
In a addition 3 a documentary video tells about the origins of the objects and their owners/makers.

Lisa Cousins

is a magician and magic historian born in 1962. She lived in various “coast to coast” American cities including New York and Los Angeles. The years she spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico, were her most stimulating years, with the Southwest Desert being her main source of inspiration. This is also where she brought up her two sons. Her involvement in magic began in 1995 with a fascination for escapologist artist Harry Houdini, which led to an in-depth study of the art and its prolific background. As performing magician and perpetual student of the magic of yesteryear, she resides near the Magic Castle in Hollywood, a unique clubhouse dedicated to perpetrating the art of magic, celebrating its past, and nurturing its future. Her many magic-related travels throughout the years, and her friendship with other magicians around the world, led to the creation of "Not Pictured: Bill Goodwin".

Shepherd Nduzo

born 1978 in Rusape, Zimbabwe, lives and works as a sculptor in Gaborone, Botswana. He exhibited his work in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, China, Taiwan, Germany and Finland. Introduced to sculpture by his father, the Zimbabwean sculptor Branabas Ndudzo, he developed his very own techniques, using stone as well as wood or mixes of both. The sculptures mainly deal with abstractions of human form based on personal encounters, experience and detailed observations of daily life.

Walter Roil

was born 1904 in Freiburg in Schlesien, Germany (now Świebodzice, Poland), learnt photography as an apprentice in various camera shops in the Black Forest area of Germany. In 1926 he decided to take on a job as photographer in Comodoro Rivadavia and moved to Argentina. In 1934 he started his own business in Rio Gallegos, Southern Patagonia, Argentina, where he continued to work until his death in 1989. Walter Roil experimented and worked with the media of his time. The material he left behind includes a huge array of pictures, film footage and audio recordings. He and his family always took great care of the negatives, which were filed according to a well-organised system, thereby putting together one of the major private photographic archives of Argentina.

Realized with the support of the Voorkamer, the Vlaamse Overheid & the ifa, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Germany
Special thanks to the memeberat and supporters of Voorkamer