The Sultan's Elephant: I just now found out about this!

I just found out about this and wanted to read a thread of people talking about it. I swear I did a search for Sultan’s Elephant, then Sultan Elephant and came up with nothing. Really? Did not one of our English friends start a thread about this enthralling art performance? It had to have been huge news in the UK. Please point out a thread if I missed it somehow. Did anyone happen to see this live?
The whole thing, which happened 3 months ago, passed me by. I came across a blog that had a video linked from YouTube, with scenes of the giant girl set to the main theme music.

Ok, if that made no sense, what am I going on about? This is what I understand: An art collective got together and put on the mother of all art performance pieces (well, this side of Christo anyway). First they started with a story involving sultans and elephants and spaceships and giant little girl astronauts. Then they built replicas of important items in the story, then they staged the whole “play” on the streets of London (and then Antwerp, I don’t know where else) for three days.

First and foremost, you must watch this video at YouTube. Set aside a few minutes (5:07 to be exact), turn on your speakers (wearing headphones is nice), click on the link, and prepare to be mesmerized.

That’s only a small part of the whole. There’s also a giant elephant, and a spaceship. There are dozens of videos at YouTube. That one is just my favorite.

I’m in awe of the level of human ingenuity, creativity, innovation, artistry and engineering that it took to think this up and pull off. And the musicians even used Blossom Dearie’s voice! melt

Yes, I thought it was fantastic too. THIS is modern art.

There was a thread about this on the Brit/Euro offshoot board, NADS.

I wish I’d seen it, as it looks utterly exquisite.

What few videos I’ve been able to see so far, I must say,I am gobsmacked. The elephant is amazing and the girl, haunting.

Kudos for posting this so I could enjoy it.

That YouTube thing was the first time I’d actually seen the movement of the little girl in detail. It’s amazing. I can’t work out how a bunch of people pulling wires articulated her in such a way that she really, genuinely, looked like she was alive, and had a personality. I’ve never seen puppetry like it - let alone on a 20 metre high puppet. I’m truly awestruck.

You’re welcome Auntbeast. I can’t stop watching it. It’s hypnotic. I knew others would enjoy it too. I’m so glad you do.

Here’s an FAQ from the BBC prior to the event which gives some details. In fact, the BBC has a lot of information.

Thank you for that other message board tip. I want to read the reactions of people who saw it in person and that’s a start.

My favorite bit is when she’s giving rides on her arms to children. I love how her head moves so that she’s looking down at them. What a thrill for the children who got to do that! I thought it looked very dangerous but there’s another video on YouTube, by himikey, that shows her giving rides and you can see how the children are getting on and off via a ladder. The key is that she’s down on her knees and so the children aren’t that far from the ground. They’re not allowing little little kids to go up. Oh, I found a picture. And another. And another!

This sounds crass to ask, but I wonder, when she’s crouching, if she’s peeing, or just exercising. The elephant certainly pees. One of the videos shows it. I wouldn’t have even thought to ask that question, but she’s definitely peeing in this picture. There are thousands of pictures on Flickr. I haven’t even gone through a fraction of them yet.

I haven’t seen a video of them actually dressing her. I imagine those garments are held on by velcro. With all those wires and pulleys they couldn’t just put the clothes on over her head or arms. It surprised me that she takes a shower every morning (handy elephant) because you’d think all that water would gum up the works, and cause rust.

It’s not shown in the video I linked to, but there are several other things the girl does, shown in other videos and pictures. She rides a scooter. She rides the elephant’s trunk. As a practical joke she threads cars together. I saw that in a link at the NADS board you posted about. Here’s a BBC picture of it. Here’s a picture of her needle and thread.

The most amazing thing is the magic trick at the end of the whole show, when they put the little girl back into the spaceship, put the top on, it looks like it’s taking off (with fire underneath, just like a rocket), then they open it up again and she’s gone!

Ha, in London she had to sleep in a chair. In Antwerp she got a bed! It’s shown in this otherwise not very good video, near the end.

Here’s a thread I remember from another (largely London-based) board about this most wonderful event. Such a cool thing.

Ooh. Uncanny Valley.

The elephant I really liked; the little girl, at the risk of sounding philistine…not so much. To me she just looked like a big, creepy puppet being moved around by a crane. The creepiness was reminescent of the “Team America” puppets. The elephant on the other hand was COOL. :stuck_out_tongue: