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A series by Frédéric Vincent

Crystal Palace ” is a series based on the book " The Crystal Palace " , written by the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. It was made as part of " the Force de l’Art 02 " at the Grand Palais in 2009, with the backing of the CNAP (National Visual Arts Centre) and the Ricard Corporate Foundation. The videos are conceived in the form of a TV series, divided into five six-minute episodes. I decided to juggle with the codes of a TV series: (credits, recurrent character, summary, credit score).


The Crystal Palace is interpreted here as a symbolic place of planetary capitalism. This series is performed by actors (Antonin Menichetti, Stéphane Lecomte, Frédéric Vincent), dancers

(Anne Lise Dugat, Florence Budon), and a Tai-Chi-Chuan master (Virgile Tanc).


Each one of its figures has a recurrent character, just like in any TV series. Here, the Tai-Chi-Chuan teacher is the shadow boxer, the dancer Anne Lise Dugat is Europa, the dancer Florence Budon is America, Antonin Menichetti is the guardian of idols, Stéphane Lecomte is Christopher Columbus, and I play the part of the administrator of the Tower of Babel.

Frédéric Vincent

The entirety of this Frédéric Vincent’s essay entitled «Crystal Palace» is published in the Blog Monomotapa, The blog series of artists:

« Crystal Palace », 2009, 5 épisodes de 6 mn

Production : CNAP et Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard


Episode 1

« Le départ », 2009, 6 mn

In the first episode, Christopher Columbus acquires the deed of ownership of the “terra incognita”. To the strains of an orthodox sacred piece of music, there is a succession of images of Byzantine icons, and computer icons.


Episode 2, « Le voyage », 2009, 6 mn

The Christopher Columbus character declares in the second episode: “I am a geographer who makes history. My history is on maps”. Followed by a shot of a map of the world showing what makes up the members of the G20, i.e. 85% of world output. Only the G20 countries are represented on this map (Germany, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, the United States, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Russia, Turkey and the European Union). A political map of world trade and those who run it.


Episode 3

« Le Palais de Crystal » 2009, 6 mn

In the third episode, a voice off says: “ “The Crystal Palace” is the chance encounter between Rainer Maria Rilke and Adam Smith at a gambling table.” Here I am borrowing the famous words which will be used to define Surrealism, in particular (“as beautiful as the chance encounter on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella!”, Lautréamont, " Les Chants de Maldoror ", 1938). The second part of this third episode is a dance involving America, Europa and the shadow boxer, filmed in the Grand Palais.


Episode 4

« Babel », 2009, 6 mn

The fourth episode is where the administrator of the Tower of Babel appears. At the end of the episode, the viewer sees certain works shown at the exhibition " La Triennale d’art, La Force de l’Art 02 ", including a piece by Arnaud Labelle-Rojoux. The legs and feet of visitors walking round the exhibition are filmed.


Episode 5

« L’espoir », 2009, 6 mn

The last episode consists entirely of sequences filmed during the exhibition. Here we see visitors filming and taking photos of the works of the artists. In a shot where the Europa character is dancing, a voice off reads an excerpt from Peter Sloterdijk’s work. “ We want to go fast, move rapidly, and learn rapidly. But demanding cultural practices require us to take our time. The world is asymmetrical. Artists are those who stop us foundering in life’s harmful routines. It is time to take this path. It is time to survive the artists ”.


(1) Peter Sloterdijk, " The Crystal Palace ". 2005. Translated by Michael Daffoch, University of Windsor, 2008

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