Heroes of magic world ask to be recognized as illusion artists
Umay Aktaş - ISTANBUL / Radikal
A common complaint from the members of the Illusionist Association in Istanbul’s Karagümrük is their business does not receive the interest or respect it deserves and that illusion is not recognized as an art form.The Illusionists Association of Istanbul’s Karagümrük neighborhood has been bringing together magicians and delighting many since 1985 but members lament the lack of respect and recognition for their craft.
“Unfortunately, people see us as a fortuneteller or wizard, but their view of foreign illusionists is different. We are called for television programs and given five minutes. They underestimate us and we are demoralized,” Mehmet Nuri Özler, or “Mendakon,” was quoted as saying by daily Radikal yesterday.
When İbrahim Işınbark, or “Mandrake,” first established the foundation in 1985, he did so with just eight magicians; there are now 49 members in total, 10 of whom are women. Their common interest is the art of “illusion” and a belief that magic is a matter of the heart.
Members of the association include Mendakon, who came to Istanbul aged 12 to become a magician over 30 years ago; Ferdinand, who has spent a large amount of money on illusion games; and Özgür Kapmaz, who set his heart on illusion after graduating from an English business department at university, among others.
A common complaint from the members is their business does not receive the interest or respect it deserves and that illusion is not recognized as an art form. The purpose of the organization, therefore, is to provide a union for performers and better educate the public about what they do; members also said they were not wizards or fortunetellers but artists. They also invest in training young people in the art.
Mendakon first encountered illusion at fairs in the southeastern province of Gaziantep but it was only after he met Mandrake in Istanbul that he entered the world of magic. Since then, he has been earning money from the business of illusion for years and has his own company.
For him, they are a group that is often misinterpreted or misrepresented.
Ferdinand Haralanbidu, 66, has worked as a magician for 46 years. “In 1978, I bought 10 to 15 games from the Far East. I also bought games from Mandrake in Istanbul and developed a talent. I taught it to street children for many years, but this business is very expensive,” he said.
Kapmaz, 28, has been involved in magic since he was 5. He performed in bars while studying at university and continues to work as an illusionist alongside his day job in a private company.
Another member, Enis Talas, operates in the field of “mentalism.” “When David Copperfield came to Turkey in 2000, I watched him over and over again break his body into two parts with a laser. Eventually, I found out how he did it. I started undertaking huge illusions, producing my own show and working with the best dancers in Turkey,” he said.
Children most dedicated visitors of association
The door of the association is open to anyone and, mostly, it is children from the neighborhood who come. But the attitude of magicians is clear: they do not want children to neglect their schooling for the pursuit of “magic” and, therefore, no one is permitted to become a member the age of 18.
Revealing the secrets of the business is one of the biggest transgressions and is punished with dismissal from the association while working as a fortuneteller and defaming the business of magic is also looked upon with disfavor, according to the group.