At Adorno London 2021, Johanna Ulfsak presents “Floor Plan”, a large-scale hand-knotted rug that depicts the floor plans of Buckingham Palace. While accurate according to all available information, the layouts were mapped out by the public, leaving parts of the Royal Home a mystery. Wrapped in secrecy that people have tried to give structure to for centuries, the heritage of Buckingham Palace lies within the heritage of the British Monarchy. With its 775 rooms that have hosted camels, elephants, idiosyncratic monarchs, and misbehaving celebrities, it represents a colonial history that is now called “heritage”.
The eccentric voyeurism of power has always been present in the cultural exchanges and historical readings around the world and with her carpets, Ulfsak critically engages with a historical narrative that she has no direct connection to – most of the information comes from pop culture, media, history books, and tabloids. Ulfsak is a tourist in this town. Using contemporary design, she brings out the surreal aspects of a space so idealised it has now become a playground – a space so surreal we pay for tours to walk through the palace like a funfair, while remaining a model for reflecting wider historical narratives.
This floor map can partly be seen as the spatial representation of monarchy, partly as an archival map of centuries of British colonialism, and partly as a bad joke.