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Of Other Places: The Garden as a Heterotopic Site in Contemporary Art

Author(s): Melanie Dana Nakaue

Journal: The Brock Review
ISSN 1188-9071

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 60;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: postcolonial theory | foucault | contemporary art | art | art history

According to Michel Foucault, a heterotopia is a site where the differentiation between a location and its temporality is related to theoretical and societal concerns that challenge the notion of history, location, and subjectivity. Contemporary artists such as Stan Douglas and Hew Locke utilize the garden as heterotopic space for intervention in their work in order to investigate and challenge linear notions of time, space and subjectivity. Stan Douglas examines the historical and social underpinnings of the community gardens in early nineteenth century Northern Europe, otherwise known as the potsdamer schrebergärten, and recreates the tableau of the garden in his piece, Der Sandman. Similarly, artist Hew Locke draws upon the art of the topiary and creates an assemblage topiary sculpture, titled Black Queen, where found objects are utilized to recontextualize the concept of the garden topiary as a site of a postcolonial experience. This article investigates the way that nature, in this case the garden, is utilized and represented in contemporary art. By analyzing and applying Foucault’s lecture, “Of Other Spaces” and definition of heterotopias to the work of artists such as Douglas and Locke, the paper aims to illuminate the connection between site and subjectivity, and the multiplicity of meaning that results from the garden as being the quintessential site of postmodern experience.
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