Of spaces and utopias

In European politics, the pursuit of the ideal hospitality coincides with the discourse around the topic of diversity and decolonization as framed within governments and mega-institutions. Accordingly, cultural institutions have been structured upon a certain civilized way of behaving, especially when it concerns the “other”. There seems to be nonetheless a paradox. This discourse is based on the traditional European structural logic of the government or the institution. As Iliana Fokianaki states: "The presentation and discussion of this behavior is undeniably reminiscent of older Western notions of how a civilized host should perform toward an exotic, uncivilized other"[1].

In this case, even though cultural institutions oppose colonial practices of the past and reflect on contemporary political issues as an act of hospitality, this opposition places them on a higher moral ground.

Such was the behavior of the institution, when obliged its host, Greece, to behave in a particular civilized way. Now we arrive at the following situation. On the one hand, Troika came to Greece to ensure the euro’s stability and to enhance the fiscal policies of the nation. documenta 14, on the other hand, was hosted in Athens to learn from the city and its people. documenta’s obtrusive fetishism towards Greece as a nation in crisis has a sinister parallel with the support mechanism as given to Greece during its first memorandum. In both cases, there is an obscure change of roles. Once more, the guest or foreigner takes the form of the host while Greece, in than manner, loses the mastery of its home.

 The current work: "Of spaces and utopias" derives from the conflicting nature of "heterotopia", as defined by Michel Foucault[2]. It thus adopts an oppositional stance towards the hegemonic practices of liberal democratic institutions, which have eroded the capacity of cultural institutions to engage into critical discourses. Like a "heterotopia", "Of spaces and utopias" constitutes a temporary and esoteric platform, aims to open multiple new point of views in regards to the current Euro-centric state apparatus.

[1] Fokianaki, Iliana. “Redistribution via Appropriation: White(Washing) Marbles" e-Flux. May 2018. https://www.eflux.com/journal/91/197800/redistribution-via-appropriation-white-washing-marbles/

[2] Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias”. Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité. October, 1984; Translated from the French by Jay Miskowiec. https://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/foucault1.pdf



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Fisher, Mark “Indirect Action: Some Misgivings About Horizontalism”Institutional Attitudes: Instituting Art in a Flat World. Edited by Pascal Gielen. Amsterdam, Valiz, 2013, pp 108-109