Heterotopias hosts studies and visual essays that dissect spaces of play, exploration, violence and ideology. The project focuses on the spaces and architecture of virtual worlds. The zine releases quarterly – 2 issues so far.
Peter 21 April 2017
A very comprehensive range of essays in book out today!
Janz, B. B. (ed.) (2017) Place, Space and Hermeneutics Berlin: Springer International.
“This book analyzes the hermeneutics of place, raising questions about central issues such as textuality, dialogue, and play. It discusses the central figures in the development of hermeneutics and place, and surveys disciplines and areas in which a hermeneutic approach to place has been fruitful. It covers the range of philosophical hermeneutic theory, both within philosophy itself as well as from other disciplines..”
Includes paper by Golfo Maggini: ‘Digital Virtual Places: Utopias, Atopias, Heterotopias‘ pp 465-477.
Peter 27 April 2017
It is often stated that Foucault never returned explicitly to the topic of heterotopia after his 1966/67 accounts of the concept. However, here and there, he did conjure up spaces that might be described as heterotopic. An example can be found in a short text ‘The simplest of pleasures’ – first published in Le Gai Pied in 1979 – in which he reflects somewhat playfully on alternative spaces for contemplating suicide.
Foucault suggests that suicide should be considered an opportunity ‘to make of it a fathomless pleasure whose patient and relentless preparation will enlighten all of our life’. It should not be left to unhappy people who commit it in often sordid, hurried and bungled circumstances. Suicide should be faced with ease, intricate deliberation and imagination. He thinks that ‘suicide festivals or orgies’ might be possibilities, but also imagines there might be other alternatives that avoid the ’pre-packaged’ banalities that often surround death in modern culture. Just as ‘love hotels’ in Japan have provided an alternative space for having sex, perhaps places could be devised:
‘…. without maps or calendars where you can enter into the most absurd decors with anonymous partners to look for an opportunity to die free of all stereotypes. There you’d have an indeterminate amount of time – seconds, weeks, months perhaps – until the moment presents itself with a compelling clearness’.
Such a space ‘would have the shapeless shape of utterly simple pleasure’.
What makes such a place heterotopic? Like most heterotopias mentioned by Foucault, the place disturbs or intensifies the usual sense of time. Prisons, cemeteries, fairs, ships, libraries, theatres all do this in different ways. Foucault invents a distinct term ‘heterochronias’ to identify spaces that involve ‘temporal discontinuities’ [decoupages du temps], but in a sense all heterotopias are thoroughly chronic. In this instance, a place ‘without calendars’, involving an ‘indeterminate amount of time’ to contemplate our absolute temporal break, a moment out of time, without comparison, deserves our utmost attention.
Foucault, M. (1996)  ‘The simplest of pleasures’ in Foucault Live: Collected Interviews 1961-1984, ed. S. Lotringer, trans. L. Hochroth and J. Jonhston, New York: Semiotext(e) 196-99.
Afterthought – sex, mirrors, death
In Angela Carter’s short story ‘Flesh and the Mirror’ the narrator recounts a visit to a ‘love hotel’ in Tokyo where she makes love to a young man she had met by chance. The hotel room has a mirror covering the whole ceiling which enhanced a sense of anonymity through an annihilation of ‘time, place and person’. It reflected the essence of chance embraces where the two became mere ‘ghosts’ of themselves’.
30 March 2017
50 years ago today Foucault gave a talk in Paris to a group of architects [Cercle d’études architecturales] in which he outlined for the third and final time his thoughts on heterotopias. The talk eventually published in 1984 became the most well-known account of these perplexing different spaces.
To commemorate the event, in collaboration with artist Karen Browning, we publish a brief illustrated excursion into perhaps his most pivotal example of heterotopia: the mirror.
14 March 2017
In my research on mirrors, thanks to Judy for sharing this different space by Paul Nash.
The painting (1934-37) is from a drawing made in Toulon of electric globe ceiling lamps repeatedly reflected in the mirrored walls of a restaurant.
14 February 2017
I have started a new interdisciplinary research path exploring mirrors and heterotopias. As an object, symbol and metaphor, mirrors have such a rich and varied history – scientific, divine, deceptive, magical, instructive, corruptive, utilitarian, self-reflective, supernatural ….
Mirrors, like all heterotopias, intrude upon, reinvent and disturb the everyday. They reveal something alike and utterly different. Jorge Luis Borges’ poem Mirrors puts it like this:
It is strange to dream, and to have mirrors
Where the commonplace, worn-out repertory
Of every day may include the illusory
Profound globe that reflections scheme.
As John Ashbery asks in Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, a response to Parmigianino’s painting:
Is there anything to be serious about beyond this otherness that gets included in the most ordinary forms of daily life…..?
Do get in touch if you would like to explore with me Foucault’s tantalisingly brief comments about mirrors and utopias/heterotopias (it’s a massive field).
25 January 2017
Beckett, A. E., Bagguley, P. and Campbell, T. (2016) ‘Foucault, social movements and heterotopic horizons: rupturing the order of things’, Social Movement Studies, Published online: 02 Nov 2016
In this article, we explore and develop the utility for social movement studies of Michel Foucault’s conceptualization of heterotopia. Informed by Foucault’s theorizing, we propose a heuristic typology of social movement heterotopias. Five heterotopia ‘types’ are considered: ‘contained’, ‘mobile’, ‘cloud’, ‘encounter’ and ‘rhizomic’. Each has particular attributes, but all challenge normal, routine politics. They do so by being, from the perspective of state and capital, either in the ‘wrong’ place, moving in the ‘wrong’ way, or involving the ‘wrong’ connections, affinities or organization. These are constructed-types, proposed for the purpose of description, comparison and prediction. These social movement heterotopias are different types of space that facilitate practices of resistance and transgression. We situate Foucault’s writing on heterotopia at a pivotal moment in his intellectual career, when he became increasingly concerned with how particular mechanisms for modulating the creative force of resistance/power are invented, the types of bodies they craft and the politics they make possible. We propose an interpretation of heterotopia that relates it to his later work on power, resistance and freedom, and the interplay of his ideas with those of Gilles Deleuze.
20 December 2016
Fifty years ago (7 and 21 December 1966) Foucault gave two radio broadcasts on the topic of utopias and heterotopias. Although not translated into English as yet, we have recordings of both broadcasts.: Le corps utopiques and Les hétérotopies.
Three months later (14 March 1967), he gave the more well-known talk on heterotopias or ‘different spaces’. Throughout the coming months, my website will be celebrating these 50 year anniversaries and keeping you up-to-date with a series of related events. Watch this space!
7 December 2016
Here is the beginning of my reponse to Fiona Ackerman’s wonderful exhibition Grasslands held at Winsor Gallery – 26 November 2016 – 7 January 2017.
Fiona Ackerman makes a mirror box, an enclosure, a theatre, a disruption of images, as both an invention and exploration of gardens. Rather than the tradition of depicting gardens, bounded spaces, the canvasses embody the process of gardening, cultivating an impossible space: a medley of sculptured cut-outs, with branches, grasses, leaves entangled and entangling. The density of foliage is ceaselessly reflected and refracted in texture, colour, size and dimension to produce something that is both a display and a performance. Am I in a glass house or outside? These inventions seem in-between. I am positioned close-up as if I could reach inside or outside, but to get where? Glasslands prompt the questions: what is a garden and what are the possibilities of these curious spaces…….?
For the rest of my text, Fiona’s introduction to the paintings and further images click here.
22 November 2016
A new departure! A collection of essays, edited by Jonatan Leer and Karen Klitgaard Povlsen, looks at food and media, drawing from Bourdieu’s notion of ‘distinction’ and Foucault’s thoughts on heterotopia.
“Food is everywhere in contemporary mediascapes, as witnessed by the increase in cookbooks, food magazines, television cookery shows, online blogs, recipes, news items and social media posts about food. This mediatization of food means that the media often interplays between food consumption and everyday practices, between private and political matters and between individuals, groups, and societies.
This volume argues that contemporary food studies need to pay more attention to the significance of media in relation to how we ‘do’ food. Understanding food media is particularly central to the diverse contemporary social and cultural practices of food where media use plays an increasingly important but also differentiated and differentiating role in both large-scale decisions and most people’s everyday practices.
The contributions in this book offer critical studies of food media discourses and of media users’ interpretations, negotiations and uses that construct places and spaces as well as possible identities and everyday practices of sameness or otherness that might form new, or renew old food politics”.
16 November 2016
Looks to be wonderful exhibition for the Singapore Biennale:
27 October 2016- 26 February 2017
“Paracosmos propels the viewer into a parallel world – a space of otherness that is recognisable but unfamiliar. Shaped by Shinto ideas of interconnectivity, the site-responsive work is situated in the circular stairwell of the Singapore Art Museum, a central transition space that connects two floors. Here, the ‘membrane’ of hand-cut mirrors dissolves the definition between foreground and background by dissipating the single image into an explosion of reflections. A space of simultaneity, and eternally liminal, the mirror was core to philosopher Michel Foucault’s concept of the heterotopia as a kind of zone that could encompass other sites. Yet munificence can also be deceptive, and like a mirror that throws a warped or skewed reflection, heterotopias can disturb and distort the spaces held in their embrace. The mirror reveals itself as a paradoxical device: able to hold every other image by having no inherent image, it canenfold an ‘everywhere’ by being a ‘nowhere’ in itself”.
1 November 2016