Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Gallery: Magic Relics

The Fechner Collection Sale

In the movie “The Prestige”, the mechanics of a collapsing miniature cage vanishing a canary by killing it, is one of the most persistent images remaining in the spectator. Of the thousands that saw the lavish film, the most probably ignore that such apparatus really existed, even if their working required some less cruelty. This gone world, between the late XVIII and the early XX century, from Mitteleuropa to United States, revolved around legendary craftmen, named Conradi-Hoster, Carl Brema, Willmann, masters of merging mechanics, chemistry and pneumathics.

One of the world’s largest collection of that kind was the one of French film moghul Christian Fechner: I was lucky to visit his Boulogne-Billancourt’s mansion where this cave of marvels was assembled. Was, because every year in October, a part of this unique collection is liquidated at Swann Galleries in New York. The third Fechner sale went on last week, and it included the “Goldin” chairs we published the other day.

The highest paid items was two posters. And, by coincidence, from the two most marvellous false orientals (and magic inventors) of the early 20th century stage: a unique French publicity for Okito (Theo Bamberg), sold at 42.0000 dollars; and a poster of Chung Ling Soo (W.E.Robinson) portrayed in the gun trick that costed him his life, sold at 24.000.

About collecting, we never can say if is more logical the assembling (on our personal criteria), or the casual dispersion. In a tribute to this dilemma, we offer today a gallery of some of the Fechner sold items: objects beautifully disconnected from their contexts, isolated by a photographer in their sublime and nonsensical surrealistic solitude, still reflecting the amber lights and glories of the early modern theatres, now carefully placed in in the morgue of the inanimated things in their sublime inutility.

To the profane, those mysterious objects can have at the same time the bizarre evocation of an ipothetic victorian sexy shop as well as a church’s sacresty. Their purposes seems so futile as complicate and ingenious is imagined their workings. Their names’ beautiful absurdity seems come from a collision between an André Breton poem, the Bible, a pricelist of some suburban cheap pranks store, a black mass inventory, a scrapbook from Salvador Dali or Lewis Carroll, an undertaker’s dream: cones of Satan, travelling die, canary’s grave, Aladdin’s casket, multiplying candles, production funnels, Solomon’s pillars, billiard ball candelabra, spirit bell, rapping hand, watch mortar…

Today, stage magic has lost the precious aspect of unconfortable mistery, and his innocent gaze on the unknown, sadly based today on “ props” missing the required power to evocate other worlds.

No comments:

Locations of visitors to this page