Recent visitors to the V&A will have noticed that the museum is for sale. A 25 metre hoarding strectching across the Cromwell Road wing of the building offers a ‘New residential development at prime cultural heritage location.’ And those interested in viewing the property can call the ‘Crown Property Investment Group’ via their hotline, which appears on the hoarding.
Sales hoarding. Courtesy the Artists and Victoria Miro, London © Elmgreen & Dragset. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This provocative sign is in fact an artwork, which forms the final piece of the major installation “Tomorrow“, created by leading contemporary artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset. Their transformation of the museum’s former Textile Galleries into an apartment belonging to a fictional, elderly and disillusioned architect gives visitors a chance to explore his home, sit on his sofa and read his books and magazines. Forced to sell up, this luxurious apartment serves to make a poignant and political comment about London’s property bubble.
“Tomorrow”, Elmgreen and Dragset Courtesy the Artists and Victoria Miro, London © Elmgreen & Dragset. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Using the space as a springboard for ideas, the V&A invited Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company which changes the lives of homeless and displaced people, to theatrically respond to the installation. Their intervention existed independently of the Elmgreen & Dragset script which accompanies their installation, and resulted in the production of a new play entitled ‘Viewing the Property.’ Written and directed by Cardboard Citizens’ CEO and Artistic Director Adrian Jackson, this unique script uses the artists’ stunning installation as the stage set for a series of estate agent viewings.
The well proportioned kitchen Courtesy the Artists and Victoria Miro, London © Elmgreen & Dragset. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Our viewings, scheduled for October 11 and 12 attracted over 600 potential buyers to the V&A. Welcomed by our estate agent (Cardboard Citizens actor Michael Quartey), viewers were shown into the well proportioned entrance hall.
Prospective buyers in “Tomorrow”, Elmgreen and Dragset Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The viewings took a somewhat unconventional turn as we were shown through to the lounge before venturing into the kitchen, studio and bedroom. In line with Cardboard Citizens mission statement, this theatrical intervention highlighted the issues faced by homeless people with the view of promoting greater understanding amongst the wider public. A typical estate agent viewing it was not…
Michael Quartey in “Tomorrow”, Elmgreen and Dragset Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Joined by actor Jake Goode, the performance gathered pace to culminate in a thought-provoking, site specific experience. Well received by our audience (despite no buyers…), the performances offered an alternative perspective of a gallery space. In addition to entertainment, the play presented a strong political message, delivered with conviction by our talented actors. And feedback was as follows:
‘It was enjoyable to be led through the property by very convincing actors.’
‘Added new dimensions to a fascinating installation-highly relevant’
‘Interesting political content-just bought first house-so personally relevant too!’
‘Merging of theatre within a relevant, out of the ordinary setting. Also I think it’s great to get such an important company involved to help convey the message!’
Jake Goode and Michael Quartey Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Cardboard Citizens strives to be a world leader in its field, creating great theatre that makes a real and positive difference to our society and those living on its margins. Do visit their website for further information about their work and future performances. www.cardboardcitizens.org.uk
With special thanks to the Royal Norwegian Embassy