Institute of Para-Enactment Research
Softcore Historicism and Embodied Heritage



The term “heterochronia” is a term borrowed from the medicine and used by french philosopher Michael Foucault in the lecture “Des spaces autres” [Other Spaces] (1967) together with his direct translation into time, the tem “heterotopia”. Wether for Foucault heterotopia defines certain cultural, institutional and discursive spaces that are somehow ‘other’ (disconnected spaces that make a real utopia possible, such as a prison), heterochronias defines the temporal relationships that such spaces open in a non linear non sequential way.. For Foucault, both can be interlinked, as space and time refer to each other. Both her¡terochronia and heterotopia are for Foucault contemporary phenomena The term Heterotopia was further used by sociologist Henry Lefevre in reference to the type of space produced by capitalism, as as a fragmented and hierarchical geography but tending towards homogenization.

The Following excerpt regarding heterotopies was written by Michael Foucault in "Des Espace Autres," and published by the French journal Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité in October, 1984.

“Museums and libraries have become heterotopias in which time never stops building up and topping its own summit, whereas in the seventeenth century, even at the end of the century, museums and libraries were the expression of an individual choice. By contrast, the idea of accumulating everything, of establishing a sort of general archive, the will to enclose in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of constituting a place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages, the project of organizing in this way a sort of perpetual and indefinite accumulation of time in an immobile place, this whole idea belongs to our modernity. “

For philosopher Paul B. Preciado, Heterochrony “ tries to address the question of the politics of a time by looking into the relationships between language, power, and temporality.” Heterochrony works as a methodology for constructing history while contesting linearity. For Preciado, Foucault's use of heterochrony serves to question “the modern western construction of time and its relationship with hegemonic historical narratives”. For her “Heterochronia does not refer to time as an abstract dimension of physics, but rather to time as a social and political construction.”

The following extract was published by Paul B. Preciado in 2014 inside the “Glossary of Common Knowledge” of l´internationale as part of the curatorial work done by Preciado inside MACBA:

“What are the times that museums are accumulating? And what other times resist conventional narratives and reject accumulation as a historical method? Building upon a critique of naturalized time already developed by Mikhail Bakhtin and Henri Lefebvre, Foucault’s notion opens up the possibility of understanding the museum as collective abstract machine to construct “other times”, not only to question the storyline of the past but also to invent “other” futures. By claiming “other times”, this project focuses on those temporalities that suspend, neutralize or reverse the dominant narratives of art history: those coming from linguistic, national and political minorities, feminist and sexual “molecular” movements, as well as other modes of perception and cognition (disability movements). Heterochronia relates to a series of concepts coming both from the art practices after the 1960s but also from political movements and critical theory: the notion of “chronopolitics” (Paul Virilio) stresses the links between capitalism, technology, and temporal production; ephemerality and performativity can be understood as – “operations within time” (Judith Butler), modernity as a “time in ruins” (Marc Augé); anachrony as the “opening up of history” (Didi-Huberman) and the political intervention as the possibility to “switch temporalities” (Rancière); the “contemporary” as a site of experimentation with multiple times (Agamben); and “unproductive time” as a strategy to resist “acceleration” as the dominant time of modernity (Harmut Rosa). Heterochronic reading as a historical method is an effort to produce “situated knowledge” (Donna Haraway) to subvert history in terms of a single threat of linear time (“the time of progress and the time of the winners”- Walter Benjamin) and to critically engage into a proliferation of (vertical or fractal) layers of time that fight to produce other histories.”



︎︎︎ Berlin, 2022

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