‘We must think that what exists is far from filling all possible spaces’ (Michel Foucault)
‘In the places where thought has not yet been, it is difficult to think’ (Michel Serres)
The site is devoted to Michel Foucault’s ideas on heterotopia. Foucault outlines the notion of heterotopia on three occasions between 1966-67. A talk given to a group of architects is the most well-known explanation of the term. Overall, Foucault attempts to describe various relational principles and features of certain social, institutional and discursive spaces that are somehow ‘different’: isolated, concentrated and incompatible. In a nutshell, heterotopias are worlds within worlds, mirroring and yet distinguishing themselves from what is outside. Foucault discribes a bewildering set of examples, including utopian communities, ships, cemeteries, brothels, prisons, gardens of antiquity, fairs, Turkish baths and many more.
Foucault presents a few thumb-nail sketches which he never develops into a coherent idea. And yet his tantalisingly brief words on the subject have provoked a cottage industry that has generated hundreds of interpretations and applications. Writers, artists, film makers, performers, academics and many others have been drawn to this elusive concept.
Rather than trying to draw together a definitive understanding of this curious spatial concept, the site will explore its possibilities and limitations.
The site offers thorough on-going bibliographies, background information and resources, which are updated through my blog, a selection of personal reflections and essays and some of my own investigations into gardens, cemeteries, ships, digital space and art.
Aiming to be the hub of a network of contributions, please add comments to individual pages and my blog and send in your own text and suggested links.
The site is self-funded, so any financial contributions from individuals or organisations would greatly help to sustain the site and develop its potential.