Olivier Razac said that ‘the perfection of a tool of power is not measured so much by its technical refinement as by its economic adaptation. The instruments which serve authority best are those which expend the smallest amount of energy possible to produce the effects of control or domination’.
The disciplinary effect of the air freshener in this airline left me cold: I reject the control of my body odour in order to spot the intrinsic capitalist meaning of stench self-limitation.
Irene Fernandez Ramos
Painting: ‘Boy in a Turban Holding a Nosegay’ by Michiel Sweerts. (1658 – 1661) Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.
“Heterotopia in the Lavatory” is a photo-performance project that started in a flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv in April 2014. Inspired by the armenian-american artist Nina Katchadourian, I went to the toilet in order to recreate the infamous portrait ‘Nobleman with his man in his chest’ by El Greco. After spending a good deal of time making ruffs and moustaches with toilet paper, I was invaded by a pervasive feeling of freedom. Ignoring some passengers’ angry faces, I realized the potential of airplane toilets as spaces of contestation and deconstruction of the modern view of passengers as ‘docile bodies’. This docility can be subverted in that space that remains outside of the control of the airhostess and the rest of the passengers. The idea of defining airplane toilets as heterotopias grew up from that moment of discovery, drawing upon Michel Foucault’s essay ‘Of Other Spaces‘ presented in 1967. Heterotopias, as described by Foucault, are real spaces that at the same time exist outside of reality as ‘other spaces’. He describes the different characteristics that distinguish a heterotopia; for instance, it must have a particular social function and a system of opening and closing. In her work about public school toilets, Jennifer C. Ingrey defined them as ‘spaces that are legitimated, but contain the contradiction of also being places of illegitimacy; they contain actions that cohere and support cultural norms while simultaneously resisting them’.