The following was written for Emma Mahony’s excellent module, Art Institutions And Their Publics, which was delivered as part of the NCAD MA Art In The Contemporary World course in 2013. It deals with the notion of the deviant art institution, a concept introduced by Emma on the course, and considers whether Michel Foucault’s idea of the heterotopia might or might not function as an appropriate conceptual model for such an institution.
Michel Foucault’s 1967 lecture Of Other Spaces outlines his concept of the heterotopia1, a sort of countersite which somehow contests or inverts the sets of relations by which spaces and sites in the rest of our world are constituted. Foucault claims that such sites are critical to functioning of the human imaginary and implies that without them a collapse into authoritarianism is inevitable. As he puts it at the end of the piece, after providing the example of the ship as a heterotopia par excellence, “without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates”. (more…)