Professor Erkki Huhtamo is not only an internationally acclaimed media scholar. He is also known for his stage performances where he combines old and new media in funny but thought-provoking ways. Huhtamo’s new production, developed during the Covid-19 lockdown, will premiere as a ‘sneak preview’ version in Antwerp, Belgium on Thursday May 5, 2022 at FOMU, the Photography Museum Antwerp. “Professor Huhlabaloo Presents a Century That Slept” is part of the conference “B-Magic: The Magic Lantern and its Cultural Impact as a Visual Mass Medium in Belgium.”
Professor Huhtamo plays the role of ‘Professor Huhlabaloo,’ a failed gold digger turned into a magic lantern showman, performing for a living in San Francisco’s notorious ‘Barbary Coast’. The year is 1872. After finishing another less than refined show, he falls asleep at a barroom table while having a card game with other failed fortune hunters - and is magically carried forward 150 years. Waking up, he tries to make sense of what happened and gives an account of his own century as an era when people wanted to fall asleep to escape from an oppressive present. Maybe that’s what happened to him too? Strange connections with the current era start building up.
The Rip van Winkle -influenced performance plays with clichés of the past, reviving them to illuminate the present. A program of lantern slides of people falling asleep and seeing both sweet dreams and nightmares is accompanied by the multi-instrumentalists Alexander Sterkens and Kobe Dupont, who interpret original nineteenth-century sheet music from popular shows of the era, giving the resurrected dreams of the past a visceral presence.