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The Principality of Podmajersky (POP) ( Spring 2004 - today )

We initiated the POP project during Version>04 Festival to investigate the relelationships the Podmajersky family had with gentrifiying Pilsen. We mapped out all of their property holdings and created a website and real world campaign to inform people about the family holdings. The website became a site of lively debate and hosts fliers, posters and maps that can be used for further research.

[ Here is the copy from the [ orignal website ] :

It is the dark ages. Warlords, gangster capitalists and landed persons fight for control of property, products and people. The centers of culture have fallen and artisans, workers and producers of knowledge scramble to find fiefdoms and courts in which to find shelter and protection. In the midst of a crumbling empire many landholders jostle for power. In the ancient land of Pilsen, while workers plow the fields, a family has taken in many lost minstrels and artisans. Through invasion and fortification a new land has taken root and is conquering territories throughout the realm, collecting dues and administrating their particular blend of manorial system. This new territory is called The Principality of Podmajersky.

Three generations of Lords have defended the realm throughout the century and their reigns can be identified via the dynasties of the three Lords. Their periods are described thusly:

Lord John the Elder grew up in the lands of east Pilsen before it was called east Pilsen. A mercenary by trade he banded together with his henchman to claim territory and established his fiefdom. In this Olde World where men wore cod pieces and women wore panniers he fought off bandits and rogues and dreamed of security for his family. His outpost was established in a place where refugees and cast aways from foreign lands gained asylum and worked the mills. Through his hard work he enclosed the commons into organized lands, privatizing communities to shelter odd bands of Flaneurs, Highwaymen, and Dandys. Over the years he passed the torch to his child John II.

King John the II worked in building up the Principality with his father. Together they planned. In between labyrinth construction and cottaging, John II replaced the thatched roofs with manor houses and walled gardens. Not only did he maintain this burgeoning kingdom he helped it grow and expanded it by offering asylum to a new generation of refugees, jesters and peasants. He was the first to see the value of inviting artisans and craftsman with creative skills and tendencies to man his fortresses. In this period many talented people were granted asylum and shelter. Even though at times their roofs would leak or the fields would flood, these tenants respected their lord for his commitment to them. And as long as you didn't complain about your living conditions you could make arts and crafts in peace. The Age of Wonder under the reign of John II was a golden age for artists and their entourage. Gardens were open to the community and tything was kept to a minimum.

As all dynasties enter their third iteration so comes a change of direction. Prince John the III never worked along with his father in maintaining the realm as an outpost for outcasts. John III never liked meeting the common people in his family's realm. He wasn't interested in making connections with other neighboring warlords or the emerging artisan class. Instead he spent his time in aristocratic schools abroad, and dreamt of pursuing glory based on aquiring fame and more gold for the family coffers. Having little in common with the ragged artists and fancy flaneurs in his midst Prince John III eschewed his families interest in supporting the arts.

Instead he planned for his own reification. At one point he established a fleet with his family's fortune and sought fame instead of stewardship thru entering sailing contests with competing families.

Seeking to be the fountainhead of his familiy's history John III took control of the Realm and molded it for his personal needs. He eviscerated the role of minstrels and artisans in the Principality and looked more to his bottom line than to the common good. The empire has grown rapidly but is now on the verge of collapse due to fiscal error. Tything is at an all time high and confusion and desperation is in the air. Many fortresses lay vacant and fields untended. And now the people that have given the Principality its identity and legacy are used as pawns. Even if an artist could not perform or pay tribute to the Principality they were never refused shelter or got kicked out of the realm. But Under Prince John III's reign if you don’t pay you don’t get to play. The Age of Wonder has become an Age of Blunder.Today artisans are being evicted or tythed out of the realm and moving to places unknown. The realm is no longer a haven for creative peasant classes as Prince John III has allied himself with the Daley Tax Lords seeking only to increase income to his coffers.

Many of the properties within the Principality's borders are now vulnerable to colonization by aristocratic families. The gardens have been closed and new towers are being built to enforce the new gentrifcation Code.

We meet to honor the history of the empire and to shed a light on its gloomy future. We seek to encourage and arm the artisans and resistant elements within the Principality with the tools to defend themselves and fight back against the eviction and gentrification.

Additional Media:

[ Images from the launch of POP ]

[ Download a zine that covered the POP ]

[ A video segment of the project ]



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