‘Palace Ruin’ is a reconstruction of a fragment of the former Paleis voor Volksvlijt, Amsterdam’s own Crystal Palace. Having gone up in flames in 1929, an archival photo shows a flank of the building amid a haze of smoke and debris, just after attempts to douse the fire. Beckett recreates this moment in the form of a large sculpture—part horror house, part memorial—which later functions as a stage for thematic concerts and an architectural lecture series.
The Paleis voor Volksvlijt (1864) burned down completely in 1929. A photograph from that time shows a side facade of the building after the fire-fighting effort, amidst a haze of smoke and debris. Beckett reconstructs this image in the form of a large sculpture that still seems to smolder and that recalls the moments immediately after the fire.
Beckett is interested in the industrial development of Europe. The artist became intrigued by the architecture of the Palace which was initially inspired on the Crystal Palace in London. The Palace was a construction that mainly consisted of steel and glass. This building method stood at the cradle of the so-called corporate architecture, as is presently more than evident on the Zuidas. Palace Ruin has in this sense been placed amidst its offspring on the Gustav Mahlerplein.
Inside the installation, Beckett presents an additional research project in which he connects the Palace to a wide range of fires; from the recent great fires in the skyscrapers of Dubai and various infamous arsons to defraud insurance companies, to famous flames of classic antiquity. Through his research and coinciding performances, Beckett aims to throw a contemporary light on both the original Palace and its program. The results of the meetings and the research are presented in temporary museum presentations, both in the ruin and in a digital publication.
Source: TAAK, Amsterdam