Hétérotopie | Heterotopia
11/09 - 27/10/19

Français | NL


© Joel Nepper, series Hétérotopie, 2017, ambrotype, 10 x 20 cm

“If anything in the human conscience has any absolute or infinite value today, it is no longer the power of God or of the natural world, nor the claimed powers of morality or culture: it is “Our” own power, the power to annihilate!”

(Gunther Anders, “L'obsolescence de l'homme”)

I began my period of photographer-in-residence at Contretype with my childhood memories of visiting my grandparents in Woluwé Saint-Lambert in the late 1980s. I remember dark-coloured furniture, huge windows and a patch of waste land behind their apartment building where I played, climbed trees and made up hundreds of stories.
Returning to this district 20 years later, I realised that the city had nibbled up most of this free and completely unspoiled patch of wild space (where nothing had been planted or organised by humans) and that the developers had already set their sights on the little bit that remained.

I decided to use it as the setting for a story set in the not-too-distant future where the last remaining humans on Earth are confined to Mark Augé’s “Non-places” (1), that is places without functions that are doomed to disappear.

As I worked on developing this Heterotopia (2), I was overcome with a sense of calm and joy, far from the city’s traffic, noise and masses of zombie, cloned, anonymous workers; I would meet some natives who lived there in happy obscurity. They are sensitive, natural, organic and resist the monster city with its fifteen-storey tower-blocks of apartments or, as Le Corbusier called them “machines for living in”.

By escaping the totalitarian constraints of the place, we could find something resembling freedom.

Joel Nepper. Translation: Chris Bourne.

The photographs in this exhibition are the result of Joel Nepper’s residency at Contretype in Brussels
in 2017.

(1) Marc Augé: ‘Non-places, Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity’ (1992).

(2) Heterotopia (from the Greek ‘topos’ (place) and ‘hetero’ (different), thus (‘different place’) is an idea created by French philosopher Michel Foucault in 1967. He defined heterotopias as physical localisations of utopia, concrete spaces that housed imaginary things, such as children’s playhouses or theatres.


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