Artist's Statement: 2005.
This body of work consists of a series of square paintings based on an imaginary city named Heterotopia. This is a term devised by Michel Foucault in The Order of Things: An Archaeology of Science (1970) to describe a structure of 'radical incommensurability', that is to say a place that shows no perceivable order other than its lack of perceivable order. This series of panels, each of which refers to a section of the city, such as Latin, French, Italian etc, plays on the idea of incommensurability, that is to say on the idea that current culture is a de-centred, plural structure in which no principles of order can be determined that retain any permanence. Instead Heterotopia is a place that endlessly reflects itself replicating its own de-centred shifting language of multicultural symbols.
The panels, depicting various quarters of the city, offer a map to a chaotic multiculturalism in which the signs and symbols associated with particular cultures appear, at random, in what might generally be perceived as the wrong quarter - for example Islamic text appearing in the Jewish quarter - thus causing the collapse of recognized models of cultural identity and the brief creation of new hybrid models. For Foucault these changes, driven by political, social and economic change, cause his imagined city to mutate continually, therefore making all previous models both redundant and nonsensical as the city continuously redefines itself. Foucault illustrates this idea by referencing Jorge Luis Borges story of the Chinese Encyclopaedia in which animals are categorized under essentially meaningless headings such as 'embalmed, tame, fabulous' and so on.
Heterotopia is a place with no visual culture, because it references all visual culture, whose maps can only ever offer a contingent view of a place that has already gone. My paintings will attempt to find a visual form for this idea, to construct maps, if you will, for a city for which ultimately no map can be drawn.