The Brothel as Heterotopia

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.  I am thinking about this concept as I sit here on the plane, a type of heterotopia, and a modern day time machine, pondering how we seek out spaces of otherness, places where we are changed from our normal existence.

Foucault speaks of several types of heterotopias:

Heterotopias of deviation are places where we put individuals who exhibit behaviors outside of the norm, like hospitals, prisons, and cemeteries. (Cemeteries! I know, right?)

Heterotopias of time are places like museums where objects of all times exist but are preserved to such an extent that they do not age, thus are outside of time. I think planes fall under this category as well.

Heterotopias of ritual or purification are spaces that are not freely accessible, but where one must have permission granted to enter.

And then there is the Crisis Heterotopia; this is where the brothel comes into play.  The crisis heterotopia is a separate space like a boarding school, or a hotel room for example, where activities like coming of age or a wedding night take place.

I think the brothel follows most closely to the Crisis Heterotopia definition, however it certainly contains elements of deviation and ritual as well.

Hotel rooms have always been my favorite type of heterotopia.  I once did a series of photos of my legs in various hotel rooms.  I used to like to book hotel rooms for myself for the night because of their otherness. I used it as a way to escape and get some perspective on my life at times of great upheaval.  I am thinking of asking some of the women in Red Light District if I can pay them for the use of their room for another series of pictures.  And, I guess I had better pack a skirt and my camera for my next plane trip as well.

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