First there are the utopias... They present society itself in a perfected form, or else society turned upside down, but in any case these utopias are fundamentally unreal spaces.
There are also, probably in every culture, in every civilization, real places… which are something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all the other real sites that can be found within the culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted... Because these places are absolutely different from all the sites that they reflect and speak about, I shall call them, by way of contrast to utopias, heterotopias.
Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias.” Translated from Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité no. 5 (1984): 46-49.
HERO presents Tijdgenoten #6: Heterotopia , a group show staged in at De School, one of Amsterdam’s foremost dance clubs. It is the fourth contemporary art exhibition staged at De School, the previous ones staged by Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Eye Film Museum.
The idea for the exhibition emerged from a conversation between artist and DJ Thomas van Linge and HERO’s gallerist Gabriel Rolt on the parallels between galleries and night clubs as spaces for alternative ways of thinking and being. Following that thread, the exhibition brings together artworks, scattered through the club, that both manifest and explore the idea of ‘other’ spaces that allow and foster difference.
Some works do this physically; Thomas van Linge’s specially conceived sculptural installation adapts a large, stainless steel urinal (a dirty, contemporary iteration of Duchamp’s Fountain) and places it in a common space within the club, metaphorically bringing that particular heterotopia – the club toilet – into the open. Using a similar tactic of repurposing, Aukje Dekker's work In the end everything will be ok and if it's not it's not the end, takes a mechanical rodeo bull, once a fair ground ride, and transforms it into a kinetic sculpture, its grinding at once balletic and futile. Atelier van Lieshout’s Sensory Deprivation Helmet, meanwhile takes the idea of the heterotopia to one logical conclusion – being a wearable sculpture that entirely blocks the outside world.
Others explore different spaces and spaces of difference visually; Desiree Dolron’s video-work, I will show you fear in a handful of dust II , is a high definition video of the gentle movement of dust particles in the air, bringing us into the micro world that always surrounds us but we seldom notice. Andreas Kassapis’ Red Movie #5, shot on Super 8, takes immerses us in a realm of pure colour, being a film of the colour orange painted directly onto film stock. Shezad Dawood’s film, Towards the Possible Film, meanwhile brings the speculative logic of sci-fi to the Moroccan beach on which it is filmed, weaving together archetypes, stories and histories to create a new narrative world. Similarly drawing on a well of contemporary culture, Thomas van Linge’s video Motorheadfeatures an animated, disembodied head, a contemporary deity perhaps, a cyborg mash up of machine and divinity that floats above a background of seemingly randomly edited video and dance music, a sea of culture in which the deity seems lost and befuddled.
Other works still explore difference in the social arena. Lara Verheijden’s series of poster sized photographs, scramble the loaded modes of representation of fashion photography and the division between public and private space. Wayne Horse’s, large scale, site specific mural brings a sensibility of social critique into the show, channeling the spirit of Weimar period artists like George Grosz and Egon Schiele, a spirit that also animates his video Elephant Boy, the sad tale of a grotesque elephant-human child born to two cruelly casual and unfeeling human parents.
Essentially all artists create their own worlds, whatever the form of their work. Jake & Dinos Chapman’s video Who's Afraid of Red, White And Black? immerses us in a psychotic trip through their work. Peter Schuyff’s sculpture, Irene, a simple form of undulating lines, carved from a large section of tree trunk, seems entirely abstract and yet, like all the sculptures from this series, is a portrait of a former lover of the artist. The figuration lies in the artist’s mind, part of a world that they conjured with their work.
Text by Nick Hackworth