The Crystal Palace Group, London, 2015

THE CRYSTAL PALACE GROUP

 

“The Crystal Palace Group” was a performance that took place in 2015 between New Cross and Crystal Palace Park, London. It was a collaborative work by Florence Stencel-Wade, Jacquie Rosenbach, Athanasios Anagnostopoulos, Michelle Salomons, and Johanna Maj Schmidt.
 

Four “promoters” dressed in full Victorian costume (referencing the “original spirit” of Crystal Palace) and with a brassard, bearing the original design of the Chinese communist flag, are travelling to Crystal Palace Park via Overground. After reaching Crystal Palace Park, the performers set up their corporate-style promotional site and start distributing flyers that are announcing a new development project at Crystal Palace Park. When asked about their costumes they refer to their role as promoters for the Crystal Palace Group, without disclosing any further information about the project or the rationale behind their outfits. Members of the public are redirected to a website advertised on the flyer, which is permanently "Under Construction”. Throughout the performance, a looped soundtrack, appropriating a promotional video by the Argentinian real estate company Faena, fills the public space with a seductive sound. The performance connects the Victorian imperialist project with the surreality of the present spirit of capitalism, which is capable of incorporating conflicting ideologies (as in the case of China capitalism + communism). The superficial engagement of the promoters with the project they advertise smoothes over any attempt at questioning the contradictions inherent in their costumes.

© Johanna Maj Schmidt 2020