First principle. There is not a single culture in the world that fails to constitute heterotopias: they are a constant of every human group.
Second principle. A society, as its history unfolds, can make an existing heterotopia function in a very different fashion.
Third principle. A hetertopia is capable of juxtaposing, in a single real place, several spaces (several sites) that are in themselves incompatible.
Fourth principle. Heterotopias are often linked to slices in time: as such they open onto what might be termed, for the sake of symmetry, heterochronia.
Fifth principle. Heterotopias always presuppose a system of opening and closing that both isolates them and makes them penetrable.
Sixth principle. Heterotopias have a function in relation to all the space that remains.
School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents Heterotopia, a thesis exhibition by students in the MFA Fine Arts Department. Curated by Why + Wherefore, an online curatorial platform co-founded and -directed by Summer Guthery, Lumi Tan, and Nicholas Weist, the exhibition will be on view January 16 – 31 at the Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26 Street, 15th Floor, New York City. The Gallery will close on Monday, January 19 for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
The term Heterotopia is used by French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926 – 1984) to describe spaces that have multiple layers of meaning or relationships in one place, but which exist outside a confined physical or mental space, as a kind of utopian ideal. An example of this fictive utopia is a mirror, a “real” object that influences one’s own view of themselves, and can stand as a metaphor for the desired experiential relationship between artwork and viewer.
The curators explain, “As any one theme could not possibly cover the diversity of strategies and approaches to art making of any MFA class, the concept of heterotopia exists in the space of the thesis show, the artworks themselves, and the entire MFA experience. Coming from various geographic locations, with diverse personal narratives, and working in a variety of media and exploring notions both incredibly private and outwardly social, the artists become microcosms of difference in a greater whole. Emerging from these necessarily divergent backgrounds, these students have existed physically together in one space, but also in the sometimes chaotic environs of New York City, shaping their work and identities for the past two years. Inherent in this group are contradictions, dualities, and individual representations of reality, producing an ideal heterotopia, an approximation of a utopia that no one student can create alone. Foucault called for a society with many heterotopias as a way to distance itself from the ability to be repressed or ruled by one authority, and one can easily read this group of MFA students to be the same type of utopian social experiment, refusing to be aligned with any one notion in particular or report to a specific style.”