Towards a New Eroticism of Space

 

 

Volos, 2013

Stefanos Ziras and Anait Karaoglanian

 

The issue, really, is the absence of erotic space. It forces us to ask: what do our spaces reflect about our treatment of sexuality and what does this say about our society?
French philosopher, Michel Foucault, used the term Heterotopia to describe spaces of otherness, spaces that are neither here nor there, spaces that are simultaneously physical and mental, where according to Foucault, the imaginary obtains a material quality and while borrowing the three-dimensional public space for its embodiment, essentially it is realized elsewhere .
Foucault speaks of several types of heterotopias but a basic characteristic of a Heterotopia is that, with the passing of time it preserves unaltered its dynamic function, even if it changes form. Organized societies, although trying to avoid Heterotopias for fear that their explicit, defined structures may be shaken, succeed only in transmuting their form. Foucault characteristically states that the anguish of our times is more about space than about time. In the heterotopian reality of an erotic space, a public orgy, time would triumph over space through its relativity during the act of sex, the pleasure and ecstasy that come with it taking the role 
of a shaping force. 
In the Heterotopian universe of sexual exploration and liberation, the venues that entertain it are not recognized by organized society and its institutions, although they are its product and, ironically enough, constitute a fundamental ingredient of its normal function. They are seen as inimical and placed outside its basic urban planning, they are ethically condemned by its majority, even though the latter never ceases to interact with the sexual Heterotopia, directly or indirectly, openly or secretly, over ground or und erground, literally or in fancy.
In the venues that host the Heterotopia of sex we meet the human content of a confinement imposed by the hypocrisy of the society upon some of its members, regarded as carcinomas in its supposedly healthy body. Modern heterotopian sites relate more to enclosing some form of deviation rather than marking a 
stage in life. Oscillating on that which civilization ostracizes, one seeks to rebuild and reinvent the Heterotopia of deviation, readable only as it happens in a particular place and time, with an explicit and absolute priority of "want" over "must". There, the condemned sexuality is simultaneously protected and concealed on the one hand, free and imprisoned on the other. 
The absence of colors, a signified of film noir style sexual atmosphere, combined with dreamy lighting, accentuate a Heterotopia haunted by fancy. These images compose a suggestion of self-forming, an active and dynamic resistance to any attempt of imposing pre-determined prejudices and stereotypes, as well as a ticket to the journey down the inward abyss, where dwells the Minotaur of each one of us. It remains to 
behold him and to recognize him, so that even if we decide to kill him within us - since we have seen his tragic face - we can accept him, in understanding and mercy to those who need to keep him alive.
We evoke the ambiguity of this place, its pleasures and secrets: ‘the ephemeral, the ghostly landscape of damnable pleasures. We playfully open up the dividing walls as diverse laboratories of sensations against what we see as respectable, inoffensive bourgeoisie sensibilities. The spiraling ramp becomes a ‘method’ for loosening inhibitions, revealing both the shadowy and bright secrets that can be found behind the doors