An Interpretation of Heterotopia Through Art
A whole world exists between the real and the unreal. Utopia and Dystopia, both existing separately, yet at the same time mirror images of each other. The existence of this ‘other space’ was first discussed by the famous writer, philosopher, and historian of ideas, Paul-Michel Foucault.
In his many literary works, Foucault attempted to describe this other space and how it affects those who perceive it. He called this phenomenon Heterotopia, and since then, many artists have produced their own interpretations of how they understand it.
One such artist, Doron Furman, has created a variety of works that depict this subject in its entirety. His art touches on different aspects of Heterotopia by allowing the viewer to explore the link between the real and the unreal.
Some Possible Types of Foucault’s Heterotopia Interpreted in Artwork
To be a true depiction of Heterotopia, a work of art has to challenge the viewer to think about space every time they view it. It has to draw the viewer in the longer they contemplate it, to the point where they can envision a space that exists apart and yet is connected to both Utopia and Dystopia.
In crisis Heterotopia, a comparison has to be seen between the humans who are the subject of the work, and the indifferent environment in which they find themselves. There has to be an implication of other important activities taking place out of sight.
Crisis Heterotopia focuses on how the indifferent environment affects the individuals, who are the subject matter, which is the opposite of what another analysis of space, Deviation Heterotopia, aims to accomplish. Here, it is the behavior of the subjects themselves that is an affront to the otherwise serene and orderly institution they are in. An example would be a work of art showing the behavior of prisoners or patients in an asylum.
At times, Heterotopia can focus more on the real space, rather than what the viewer may perceive the unreal to be. An example would be a garden, which is a very real and tangible environment, but upon closer inspection, reveals a world that was not entirely apparent, to begin with. This could be due to a variety of plants that together form a microcosm that is at once separate from yet a part of the wider world.
Other forms of Heterotopia, such as that of time and rituals, also bring together different spaces that are somehow part of the same work. Museums regularly do this when spaces from different times are exhibited as part of the same artwork.
When put together, all these different aspects of Heterotopia describe two specific functions in relation to the space between the viewer and the art. The first of these functions is that of a space of illusion from which a real space is exposed. Heterotopia of compression is the second function, in which a real “space that is other” is created.
In Heterotopia, Lies the Meaning Behind Doron Furman’s Work
When viewing Doron Furman’s work, each viewer will undoubtedly walk away with a different feeling or emotion based on how they interpreted the artwork. However, one thing that his collection of works has in common is that the study of space is never too far from the surface.
The overwhelming impression is that of Heterotopia as discussed by Paul-Michel Foucault in 1967. His is a study of space, which follows the theory of “The Eye and the Spectator: Inside the white cube” first described by the influential writer Brian O’Doherty in one of his most famous works.
Doron Furman’s art derives its meaning from these schools of thought, on which Heterotopia has an overwhelming influence.