top of page


Part of group exhibition The Story of How Nicholas II and Magician Papus Secretly Conducted a Spiritist Seance Aimed to Prevent the Revolution, and Failed

Hiekka Art Museum. Tampere, Finland


Pop-Up-Papus was Ilya Orlov's contribution to the group show he also curated: The Story of How Nicholas II and Magician Papus Secretly Conducted a Spiritist Seance Aimed to Prevent the Revolution, and Failed.

The exhibition was inspired by the excerpt from the memoirs of the French Ambassador Maurice Paléologue, describing a secret spiritist seance by the French 'magician' Papus and Czar Nicolas II, conducted in the Czar’s residence in St. Petersburg with the aim of halting the development of the revolution.

Tuesday, November 21, 1916.

At the beginning of October, 1905, Papus was sent to St. Petersburg by some of his highly-placed followers who badly needed his guidance in the formidable crisis through which Russia was then passing. The magician was immediately summoned to Tsarskoie Selo. After a summary talk with the Emperor and Empress, a great spiritualistic seance was arranged for the next day. By an intense concentration of will and a prodigious expenditure of fluid dynamism, the ”Spiritual Master” succeeded in calling up the spirit of the most pious Tsar Alexander III. In spite of the fear which clutched at his heart, Nicholas II bluntly asked his father whether he should or should not resist the current of liberalism which was threatening to overwhelm Russia. The spirit replied: ”At any cost you must crush the revolution now beginning but it will spring up again one day and its violence will be proportionate to the severity with which it is put down to-day. But what does it matter! Be brave, my son! Do not give up the struggle!” While the horrified sovereigns were reflecting on this appalling prophecy, Papus told them that his magic powers enabled him to avert the threatened catastrophe, but that the efficacy of his spells would cease the moment he himself ceased to be ’on the physical plane’. Newspapers which have recently reached us from France via the Scandinavian countries report that Papus died on the 26th October… so revolution is at hand

(Maurice Paléologue. An ambassador’s memoirs. Vol. III. 1924).

The plot was considered by the participating artists from the materialist and leftist standpoint. Artists participated: Bruno Moreschi, Edvine Larssen, Gregoire Rousseau, Ilya Orlov, Jana Müller, Jyrki Siukonen, Matthew Cowan, Orens, Semyon Motolyanets, Vincent Roumagnac.

More images of Ilya Orlov's contribution


Jyrki Siukonen, Liisa Rintala, Mika Elo.

bottom of page