Recollections: Heterotopias of nostalgia
School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master’s Programme in Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art
AbstractIn Recollections: Heterotopias of Nostalgia I explore the concept of nostalgia and how it affects personal as well as collective identity. The research leans strongly on affect theory and Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia. The central research question “Is nostalgia a Foucauldian heterotopia?” focuses on what makes a place a heterotopia, and whether the same characteristics can be found in the place of longing. I found that what makes a place a heterotopia, according to Foucault, is a contradiction: the place exists and also does not exist, at the same time. I looked at nostalgia from many different perspectives and discovered that the same can be said of the place of longing: full of contradictions, it simultaneously exists and does not exist, making it a heterotopia. Chapter 3 addresses the connection between place, space, and the environment that surrounds us, and nostalgia. Chapter 4 deals with the unreliability of memory. The methodological framework for this chapter is provided by The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche and Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit. Community and collective memories are the focus of chapter 5, and the publication Decadence 4ever, which I curated, forms a part of the research related to this topic. Chapter 6 focuses on a special form of nostalgia that one feels for a place they have only visited in films, books, and songs. Chapter 7 looks at the connection between nostalgia and analogue media. In my research, I did not shy away from sentimentality. Instead, I argued that it is important and necessary to open up one’s vulnerability through sharing a part of one’s identity in personal stories. As we look at the past always from a new perspective as time passes, the stories change in meaning. That means that we have to keep retelling them, rebuilding the narrative, on a personal level as well as on a social one. In order to achieve positive change, we must accept that our stories and histories are unreliable and must be re-evaluated and re-interpreted on a regular basis. This written part of my thesis is the second to a three-part project. The first part is the curatorial art publication Decadence 4ever. The third part, which builds upon the results of my research in the first two parts, is a hand-printed and self-published collection of monotype-printed short stories about youth, friendship, and love, called The Nostalgia EP.
Thesis advisorRyynänen, Max
nostalgia, heterotopia, identity, narrativity, sentimentality, affect, memory, community