Kursaal as Heterotopic Space – Full details for 20th June CCT event

Kursaal as Heterotopic Space

Club Critical Theory

20th June 2014

8.30pm for a 9pm start

Upstairs at the Railway Hotel, Southend-on-Sea, http://www.railwayhotelsos.co.uk



“In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent: such is the utopia of the mirror. But it is also a heterotopia in so far as the mirror does exist in reality, where it exerts a sort of counteraction on the position that I occupy. From the standpoint of the mirror I discover my absence from the place where I am since I see myself over there.” (Michel Foucault, 1967)


The Kursaal was one of the world’s first amusement parks and the bank holiday destination for working Londoners between 1920s-1960s. During the 1970s it became a decaying music venue playing host to major rock acts. All that remains today is the Grade 2 listed main building with a distinctive stained glass dome.


In this CCT event we approach the Kursaal as a ‘heterotopic’ space (Foucault, 1967) which holds up a mirror up to life in Southend; past and the present.


Angie Voela: Academic (UEL)


On the other side of the mirror: heterotopia in Foucault and contemporary culture


Even the most dedicated Foucauldian would have to admit that his notion of heterotopia is at best schematic, unfinished and elliptical. Yet few ideas have captured the imagination of artists, activists, writers and scholars more than this one. What is it that makes heterotopia such a powerful notion? Why does it endure and what does it promise? I attempt to formulate a response to these questions by discussing instances of heterotopia in various fields of creative work and academic research, also discussing the limitations of existing critiques and, in many cases, their profound lack of engagement with Foucault’s larger ethic-aesthetic project.


Jane Millar: Artist and Curator


Kursaal: dream of the other 

This talk will engage with various critical theories, including Foucault’s heterotopia, to consider the fairground as a space of otherness, with more layers of meaning or relationships to other places than immediately meet the eye; as part of human geography. It will then introduce a project which aims to commission contemporary artists/makers to respond to the history and presence of the Kursaal. The talk will explore the site of the Kursaal and show the work of the artists involved in the show.


The discussion will be chaired by Tony D Sampson (UEL)


Guest DJ: “Twig the Wonder Kid” (11 till 1am)




Angie Voela is a senior lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, University of East London. She has published extensively on identity and gender in literature, film and theatre. She often draws on psychoanalysis, Foucault and French philosophy, and has a keen interest in space, theories of space and the spatial dimension of identity.


Jane Millar is an artist, a lecturer in fine art and a curator. She studied painting at Canterbury College of Art, and completed an MA in Painting (Tapestry) at the Royal College of Art, in 1989. In 2012 she completed an MA in Education in Museums and galleries at the Institute of Education, London. Her interest and recent projects in curation are concerned with site specificity, place and audience development; where artists-as-researchers engage with/reveal both tangible and intangible content. Jane’s current role, as an associate research curator for A Fine Line, is to develop an exhibition of contemporary artists/makers to interpret the history and presence of The Kursaal Amusement Park, in Southend-On-Sea.





3 Replies to “Kursaal as Heterotopic Space – Full details for 20th June CCT event”

  1. ‘Kursaal as Heterotopic Space’ looks to be a fascinating reflection. You may be interested in my site on Foucault and heterotopia [http://www.heterotopiastudies.com/] If you would like me to put anything on the site or blog do let me know. With best wishes Peter Johnson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: