50th International Exhibition of Art Venice Biennale (Japan Pavilion)
Venue : Venice Biennale 2003 ,50th International Exhibition of Art, Japan Pavilion
Organization : The Japan Foundation
Yutaka Sone, Motohiko Odani
Heterotopia signifies hetero topos, or ather spaces, and is word that can be interpreted in a number of different ways. When we refer toa place that is not here but another place, this could be many things a place that is out of the ordinary, the fringe or the incorrect place. In contrast to utopia, with its symbolic meaning of an ideal place which exists nowhere, heterotopia, signifies an actual place somewhere, whether it is ideal or not. Various theories on other spaces are emerging from the growing interest in the fringe and the other as a result of a reconsideration of modernism! The preoccupation with the outdated word topos represents a resistance to the virtual world and to phenomena with a tenuous relationship with reality that is found in our globalism and media-driven information- oriented society. For example, Michel Foucault describes utopia and heterotopia as peculiar spaces that at once relates to, and contradicts, other sites, and also, as other spaces that deviate from the everyday. Although utopia is an imaginary place that does not exist in reality, heterotopia exists among actual institutions and systems, transporting people away from reality. Prisons, mental hospitals, oriental gardens, fair grounds, libraries, museums, colonies and ships are discussed extensively, following the 6 rules associated with heterotopologie’ Foucault theorizes that heterotopia, lying on the periphery of modernity, constantly threatens the certainty and closed nature of modernity, bringing it to the brink of destruction. Although Homi Bhabha's concept of Third Space is similar, Foucault's theory transcends topographical location-politics. Unlike the fringe or third space, the word heterotopia, with its familiarity as a medical or ecological term, is also associated with an abnormal state. Ectopia, or an organ that isn't its normal place in the body, or the ecological term heterogony signify heterotopia as different or incorrect sites. Consequently, however, they are also predictors of transformation, catalysts which give normalcy a jot. The utopian projects and debates of the beginning of the last century are ‘once again becoming popular today, at the beginning of the 21st century, at a time when the frameworks of values and concepts are about to undergo a restructuring. However, the accumulation and reconstruction of a life-sized reality, a schizophrenic creation that is the result of Unpredictable events and events viewed in terms of location-politics and philosophical positions that differ according to the individual, means that in this contemporary world we are ideologically unable to share utopia - an ideal space that is impossible by definition to realize. Heterotopia takes on utopia'’s role in the 20th century as a functioning concept in the 20th century but in the context of today’s reality. In other words, heterotopia is a concept that questions how the existing condition (the present situation) should be approached, stimulated and dissimilated and deconstructed into something else through spaces found in reality.
Heterotopic and schizophrenic Japan
The Heterotopias exhibition is an attempt to reveal two aspects of heterotopia through the spaces created by the work of these two artists. Heterotopia as external spaces working from the fringe to threaten the figidity of mainstream modernism and heterotopia which, transcending systems, politics and the notion of right or wrong, results in an ecological transformation or mutation Japan can be said to be heterotopic in many ways. Not only is it geographically on the fringe, but itis an island that lies in the Far East which voraciously samples a wide range of cultures, ignoring the original contexts and reconstituting them - Japanizing them - by placing them within a radically different and unique context. As a metaphor, this image is represented by Tokyo, where many radically different spaces ‘come together, becoming chaotically intertwined. The very embodiment of rampant heterotopic growth, here we can see the unrestrained manifestations of intensely hybridized subcultures. When seen from the topos of modernism, these are peculiar and external spaces that continue to exist as other-spaces. Here we can see a blend of many different styles and periods. The tiny shrines that are sandwiched between high-rise buildings, the latest computer placed in a tatami room, digital culture with its connections to animism ... these are all chaotic and schizophrenic blends
The landscape and the body as found in other-spaces
Both Yutaka Sone and Motohiko Odani are artists who create real spaces through their sculptures and installations of moving images. If the theme underlying Sone's work is the meta-landscape that appears as a result of the involvement of people and nature, then the theme underlying Odani’s work would be the new sensations and new theories of the body, exploring the nature of the transformation that can be forced, the nature of the dreams that result from our physical involvement with the increasing complexity of the media environment and information society. The spaces that Sone and Odani create through their work are “‘counter-sites’ that embody their host culture and at the same time dissent, causing that culture to stumble. These can be defined as being outside of all places, even though it may be. possible to indicate their location in reality.” (Foucault) Sone, by rendering the elusive form of the jungle in sculpture, is attempting to confirm his relative place. And Odani attempts to sculpt air by depicting flowing water and wind. This is also a supremely sensitive and acute way of affirming one's physical space and what it is that affects one’s skin and nerves. Both Sone and Odani's work are related to a reconstruction of and search for a relationship between ‘oneself and the world, one’s physical and social position and the whereabouts of one’s sensory nerves. Moreover, their methodology and viewpoint has been greatly influenced by the outrageous blending, transformation, contextual deconstruction and reconstruction as well as the deconstruction-in-progress that continues, without any sign of completion, through the process of change that has been created by the heterotopic place called Japan Watching Sone and Odani at work is like watching a sculptor starting to carve out a place in the world without any warning or intention, ending up creating an air pocket-like space. And although this space is closed to a degree, it has a hole that enables one to enter and to leave. Sone’s journey is very much like the travels of Sun Wukong’ - schizophrenic, intermittent and featuring great flights and leaps. Based on the video footage of scenes from Night Bus (1995) that he asked his friends to record, Sone went on to develop the theme of night scenes. He conceived of a film, the theme of which was to be Hong Kong Island (1998) at night, producing only a storyboard and completing the project in the form of a marble sculpture. Sone then produced A Beautiful Day (2001) by using a sculpture, the intention of which was to depict people skiing and surfing, Then, the Himalayas were represented as a small snowcapped mountain on a snowfield, and using this, he ended Up cteating a silver maquette of a (20 meters) monument to the form of amusement called the slide. From one material to another, from the ‘scale of a landscape to a miniature scale, from a sculptural space to a ‘temporal landscape. In Sone's work, everything is connected and yet continues to change, to journey and a series of different sized topos continues to be created. And, into Sone’s space enters the observer. In this space, intermittence and continuity, a blending of everything and the ambiguity of boundaries are all tolerated. Through the sculpting of his material and through the sensibilities of the observer, Odani sculpts = reconstructs - the observer's awareness and nerve cells. To carve the pleats of a skirt floating on water, into wood. This equates to carving water, and is something that is incompatible with our understanding of materiality. The numerous images etched into the skin of the human figure carved in wood represent the duality of the primitive human form and the virtual human form created through information. Odani carves, into wood, the speed of water falling in a waterfall. This is a representation of speed as we see it that enables us to analyze the world by pausing time. Our sensibility and perception are reconstructed in the topos created by Odani. And the subcultures that have been gathered and blended through this perception, altered pathologically into a digital-baroque perception, examines the collection of the fragments of tradition, and the equally placed references to them. This can be compared to a giant scrap heap from which a life form with a heterogeneous perception appears. Odani, while breathing in a topos that isn’t an ideal place, that is a heterotopia, distorts his sensibility to the highest degree of complexity and attempts to transcend the limitations of pre-modernist and modernist sculpture The stumbling and fall of viewpoints, awareness and values. A region where every kind of fall and every kind of protest takes place, where ambiguity and indeterminacy are regarded as having great value. In this heterotopia, the /andscape and the body are revealed for the first time. Through the strength of this topos, Sone and Odani are attempting to sublate the limits of imagination and creativity.
Yuko Hasegaw "Heterotopias"(Excerpt from the catalog text)