It is encouraging to see another response to heterotopia from an artist. Photographer Allegra Martin has been taking pictures on ferry boats crossing between Sardinia and Corsica since 2009, culminating in an exhibition A Bordo in Milan, running until September and co-curated with Anticàmera :
“My interest initially focused on passengers killing time during travel, portraits of the crew at work or in moments of relaxation, and then exclusively on the ferry’s interiors and details …. The interiors, with their sofas and cabins and carpets were perfect proof of this condition of ‘suspension’ – a place suspended in time and space.”
Looking at the photographs, I can see interesting juxtapositions with work by Vincent J Stoker.
5 June 2018
In re-reading Shakespeare’s The Tempest, I have been struck by some of the heterotopic qualities of the play. As the editors of the Arden edition reflect, the whole play teases us with the magic of time and place:
Our sojourn on this enchanted island is akin to a trip to a distant planet, where we find a world dramatically unlike our own …..
The play is a tale of sea journeys. It opens with the arrival of a ship that is seemingly wrecked upon the island and ends with the ship miraculously safely restored, waiting to take most of the play’s characters home. Shakespeare was influenced by many sixteenth century travel narratives that told of dangerous and miraculous sea journeys and discoveries of other lands, people and creatures. The play embraces this age of discovery. Ships of course were Foucault’s heterotopia par excellence, travelling as far as the ‘colonies in search of the most precious treasures they conceal’. Foucault says:
…. you will understand why, from the sixteenth century until the present, the ship has been for our civilisation, not only the greatest instrument of economic development but also the greatest reservoir of imagination.
In The Tempest the island itself takes on the same qualities of a ship as Foucault describes it, allowing Prospero/Shakespeare to release a reservoir of imagination:
… a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is self-enclosed and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea…..
It is this dynamic of being on the one hand self-contained and on the other open and free that drives the play. We are in context of the age of discovery but the island setting provides a restricted geography in which different forms of confinement are played out. For Prospero and his daughter Miranda, the island itself is a prison. We are told that the airy spirit Ariel (now in the service of Prospero) was imprisoned for twelve years in a ‘cloven pine’ by the witch that once controlled the island. Prospero’s slave Caliban is confined in a cave. Ferdinand is manacled although he reflects that in beholding Miranda: ‘space enough have I in such a prison’.
Magical charms lead the characters onto and through the island, with recurring patterns of sleep, dreams and astonishing wakefulness: ‘a strange a maze as e’re men trod’. In this enchanted place that plays on all the senses, Gonzalo muses on an ideal, utopian commonwealth (echoing Montaigne). Ferdinand finds ‘this place paradise’. Miranda discovers a ‘brave new world’. But it is the monster Caliban’s imagination that captures the quality of such a different space:
Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again. And then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.
The Tempest (The Arden Shakespeare) edited by V.M. Vaughan and A. T. Vaughan (1999)
12 July 2017
New article on-line first:
‘Freedom, part-time pirates, and poo police: Regulating the heterotopic space of the recreational boat’ Deanna Grant-Smith and Robyn Mayes in Environment and Planning A.
At all levels of governance from international convention to local policy, the regulation of pollution from boats and ships has been steeped in conflict and subject to resistance. Recreational boaters, in particular, are often highly resistant to attempts to regulate their boating activity, particularly on environmental grounds. Such ongoing resistance poses a significant policy compliance challenge. This paper seeks to shed light on this complex, ongoing and broader field of opposition to environmental management by way of a case study analysis of resistance to on-board sewage regulations on the part of recreational boaters in Queensland, Australia. This resistance on the part of ‘everyday’ citizens is examined through the lens of heterotopia. In consequence, the paper can contribute to understandings more broadly of problems beleaguering environmental policy while also attending to the deeply implicated social roles of recreational boating spaces; namely as heterotopias of compensation and/or illusion. It also highlights how these heterotopic positionings are intensified by the scatological orientation of the policy under study.
11 May 2017
In my research on the history and cultural techinques of seafaring (in preparartion for the Festival of Heterotopias next year), I was struck by the final flourish of the radio talk version of Foucault’s introduction to heterotopia. In the better known later talk to architects he concludes:
Brothels and colonies are two extreme types of heterotopia, and if one considers, after all, that the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is self-enclosed and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea and that, from port to port, from bank to bank, from brothel to brothel, goes as far as the colonies in search of the most precious treasures they conceal in their gardens, you will understand why, from the sixteenth century until the present, the boat has been for our civilisation, not only the greatest instrument of economic development (I have not been speaking of that today), but also the greatest reserve of imagination. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage replaces adventure, and the police the pirates.(translation by Dehaene and De Cauter)
In the earlier version, the final sentences are even more flamboyant:
The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. A civilisation without ships is like a world where children aren’t allowed to play out their imaginary games on their parents’ double bed: dreams dry up, espionage replaces adventure, and the grim police [la hideur des police] the sun-soaked beauty of buccaneers. (my translation)
This recalls the descrption of children’s games and imaginary spaces that he gave towards the beginning of the radio talk (and left out of the later version).
These counter-spaces, these locally realised utopias, are well recognised by children. Certainly, it’s the bottom of the garden; it’s the Indian tent erected in the middle of the attic; or still, it’s Thursday afternoons on their parent’s bed. It is on that bed where they discover the ocean, as they can swim between the covers, and the bed is also the sky, or they can bounce on the springs; it’s the forest as they can hide there; or still, it’s night as they can become ghosts between the sheets and, finally, it’s the delight, as their parents come home, as they will be punished. (my translation)
26 May 2016
From Social and Cultural Geography journal, pre-publication on-line version:
‘Enclosing difference and disruption: assemblage, heterotopia and the cruise ship’ by Jonathan Rankin and Francis Collins.
The cruise ship is as much a process as an object. Indeed, while the ship appears stable in its material and affective form, this state is maintained only through the interventions of a vast array of human and non-human agencies. The cascading affects flowing from these interactions allow for alternative sociomaterial orders to be established through the suspension and splintering of fixed notions of time and space. This paper brings the theories of heterotopia and assemblage together, through a speculative realist ontology, to explore these temporal and spatial discontinuities, and the way they can create a sense of enclosure amongst passengers on-board. This theoretical approach is utilized to examine articulations of the cruise ship in the self-solicited blog entries of passengers that demonstrate both the mutable and emergent qualities of the ship and the way in which its seeming enclosure is subject to constant disruption. Rather than a static reading of the ship as a heterotopic ‘other space’, we propose that these spatial configurations are vulnerable to entropic forces and unruly agencies that frame the cruise ship as an emerging, rather than realized object, affording it the potential to enact alternative sociomaterial orders.
11 May 2016
Two distinct art residencies are under way and both refer to heterotopia in launching their projects.
“Twenty-Three Days at Sea …… will offer selected artists passage aboard a cargo ship sailing from Vancouver, Canada to Shanghai, China. Crossing the Pacific Ocean takes approximately twenty-three days, during which time the artist will be considered “in residence” aboard the vessel”.
“The ship is a floating piece of space, a place without a place that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea…” Foucault
“The Weight of Mountains is a microcosm or a portable heterotopia. It is fluid, and malleable through its roaming nature and interchangeable curators and locations”
Following the Weight of Mountains residency there will be a symposium held in London on 19 November 2015 in collaboration with the art project no.w.here: ‘Another Art World is Possible: A collaborative symposium on heterotopias’
7 September 2015