As I round the corner of The Mall (the long street leading to Buckingham Palace) chatting excitedly on my mobile to Mandy, my best girlfriend and all-round saviour, I come face to face with a 40ft elephant.

Sultans Elephant

I love London!

The Sultans Elephant was a very cool three day outdoor puppet performance in the streets of London, involving an elephant the height of a three storey building, and a puppet girl that took around 20 men, dressed in red velvet footman’s livery, to “manipulate”. Visiting French performers Royal de Luxe, closed streets and interacted in public spaces, to achieve this work, apparently loosely based on the works by Jules Verne. But it was hard to focus on drawing parallels with stories. The magic was all in the scale, gracefulness and whimsy of the puppets.

Sultans Elephant

French “soft rock” played by a live band accompanied the performance of the puppet girl removing her 1920s style aviator glasses, moved gracefully (with the help of push and pulls by her footmen) about 100 metres around the corner, turned and came back to play with the elephant.

Sultans Puppet Girl

Sultans Puppet Girl

It’s hard to explain how moving the performance was (especially as I was thoroughly distracted by my phone conversation – poor Mandy! It’s hard to compete with a 40ft elephant, even if you haven’t spoken to your best friend in nearly a month!). The best quote I read was in The Guardian, “ the sight of the elephant had been provoking small acts of self-revelation and actual smiles in the traditionally suicidal-looking London pedestrians.”

Eventually I moved on to the Institute of Contemporary Art (the reason why I was in the area in the first place) to see the hilarious Outrageous and contagious exhibition. 7 computers were set for the audience to interact with, and enjoy the best electronic/digital ‘virals’ (viral emails, which are often in the form of images, videos and games, usually forwarded from person to person to create a subversive marketing campaign).

Admittedly it was unusual – it was a personal boundary I had to overcome to think of the computers as the exhibition, I kept looking around for more. It felt like an apathetic exhibition experience – to sit down in a dark room and play on a computer for an hour… But I loved it and saw some of the funniest virals and electronic art!

To finish the weekend I did a Sunday afternoon shift at the exhibition I’m helping out at. Sadly, we found that we couldn’t compete with a 40ft elephant either.

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