Of Other Spaces

August 17, 2011

The essay talks about ‘the space in which we live is…a heterogeneous space’. This fundamentally describes something basic as our own room as a collected element, similarly to something like a museum, where ‘the erosion of our lives, our time and our history occurs’. From this stems two distinct types of spaces, a utopia and a heterotopia.

The essay focuses on the principles of heterotopias, which by rough definitions would outline the spaces of institutions in its raw forms. The essay mentions a cemetery as a heterotopia, which, following the parallel ‘laws’ that other institutions abide by; such as ‘a precise and determined function within a society’, or only capable of ‘functioning at full capacity when men arrive at a sort of absolute break with their traditional time’, or even a presupposed ‘system of opening and closing that both isolates them and makes them penetrable’. Thus the comparison of the functionality and logic behind the cemetery can be applied to any institution, for example, a museum, prisons etc. However, it would seem that from all the examples given of an institution, only two, the prison and the cemetery, share the same fate and lineage while following the same outline as any other institution that exists in the city.

‘Until the end of the eighteenth century, the cemetery was placed at the heart of the city, next to the church’, much like the prison, yet as civilisations progressed, both these spaces began to be pushed towards the fringes of the city, more so the prison than the cemetery. Both these spaces are seen to have the potential to affect the public, the cemetery and its ‘death’ illness and the savagery of the incarcerated.

It would seem that there is a constant in that institutions naturally progress to affect us as soon as we enter its boundaries, regardless of whether there is an initiation or rite of passage, as the act of knowingly entering mentally affects us. As a result, they affect us unknowingly, such as entering a museum and acquiring an air of intelligence or entering a cemetery and feeling …   .


jacky chan

2 Responses to “Of Other Spaces”

  1. jc216 Says:

    Well it would be fair to determine where the heart of the city (or any city) would technically be, though the application of the historical way of putting a cemetery next to a church; ie, next to st paul’s cathedral would have a far more profound implication as compared to the carlton location. Though i do agree that having it in the city allows for the intimacy and even an awareness that removes any negative connotations.

  2. naomi Says:

    What are your thoughts of the centrality of the Melbourne General Cemetery in Carlton? Do you think this “bourgeois appropriation” of the cemetery, it’s obsession with death as an “illness”, is still applied in contemporary society?
    I think the Carlton cemetery remaining at the heart of Melbourne provides a kind of “intimacy” to the city, a proximity that allows the public to be confronted, or rather, comfortable with the passage of life.
    However I do believe that an air of stillness and silence, not necessarily as a negative “illness”, remains to perimeter the cemetery regardless of its location.

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