top of page

The Hippo Hotel

Dedo Vabo's first installation. On a hot summer night in August 2011, residents at the infamous Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles began reporting bizarre disturbances on the bottom floor. Metal pipes banging together, glass breaking, electricity arcing through the air, and of course, the sound of gnashing molars and horrendous grunting.

What originally began as a fun social experiment flourished into a decade of large scale art installations as well as a vibrant community of makers, artists and performers that come together once in a blue moon to don the mask of the hippo.


The Hippo Hotel started out as a small art exhibit motivated by mischief and curiosity
and ended up becoming a regular fixture in downtown Los Angeles for years.


In 2011, The Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the same established known for mysterious murders, serial killers and the inspiration for American Horror Story, gave Dedo Vabo complete control over a store-front space at the front of the hotel. This room featured a solid glass wall that allowed pedestrians on the street to view the interior of the space. Dedo Vabo took over this space and installed a large "supercomputer" consisting of monitors, levers, light-up buttons, reel-to-reel players, wires, and circuit boards.  Additional computers, laptops, and numerous other vintage and outdated technology were also installed into the room. 

On a Thursday night, during the downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, the first bloat of pygmy hippopotamuses, dressed in fine tailored business suits, were released into the room.  "The Hippopotamus Problem" at the Cecil Hotel was originally intended to be a single event but became so immensely popular that Dedo Vabo was asked to stay indefinitely by the hotel management.  Both the LA Weekly and Sunset Magazine wrote articles about the hippopotamus problem and the performances continued every month of the year until April 2012.  Crowds grew so dense that they poured into Main Street resulting in the LA Fire Marshall threatening citations if the experiment continued to draw such large crowds.

bottom of page