Union of Bulgarian Artists / Exhibitions / ArchiveCurator's project of Slav Nedev
τόποσ - topographies - ...topias
the place, its descriptions and the human visions about it (as a physical, social and cultural environment)
“Things need to have space (chóra) first [of all]”
The Ancient Greeks had two words for place that partially overlap but still have different meanings. These are “chóra” (Ancient Greek χώρα “region/world”) and “tópos” (Ancient Greek τόποσς) (region/place). With a certain simplification we could say that if chóra is a place in general, tópos is a differentiated place that “contains other things and is defined by those things”, i.e. a place that is rationalized through its content.
A quick historical review will show that the place has always been and remains of primary importance to man and every living creature. An importance that often leads to arguments and even wars. Countless expeditions have been made in the past to discover and conquer new territories. Expeditions are made even today but in space. For every enterprise, for every specific activity places are necessary that have specific qualities and that should be developed or prepared in specific ways. Sciences have emerged (geography, topography etc.) that explore the place in its various aspects. There is a multitude of activities (architecture, mining etc.) whose purposes are the transformation and the utilization of the place. Various social and political projects have been made, fictitious or (semi-)realized, with varying success, for which enormous efforts and lots of people have been sacrificed. Even today we witness large immigrant flows to supposedly better places for life. Because to have place means to exist.
. . .
In this exhibition we would like to show various views on the Place (τόπος) as an open, differentiated, explored and developed space; developed not only as a fait accompli but as a process and project as well.
Possible subjects of interpretation could be:
- the process of discovering and differentiation of a place from the totality of the space - reasons, methods, results;
- determining or attributing of certain qualities to particular places and the results thereof: geographical, cultural, political, historical etc.;
- tendencies for humanizing/civilizing of places and vice versa - abandonment of already civilized territories that in a sense transmutes them into no-places (kenon);
- projects and visions for possible organizations and developments of places, including political, social and industrial projects for example all kinds of experiments, projects and realities along the utopia - dystopia axis, alternatively heterotopia;
- methods for and results of the interaction of man and place, including such that have led to unexpected or reverse effect;
- any other discourses that explore the place and its content and qualities or the relationship between the man and place.
 Aristotle, Physics, Book ІV, Part І. The quoted words are a commentary to Hesiod’s Theogony.
In addition, Isaak Lenhart (referring to Algra, K. (1994). Concepts of space in Greek Thought.) writes in his paper Kairotopos: A reflection on Greek space/time concepts as design implications in Minecraft (2011), “It is important to note that the Greeks did not make a large linguistic difference between ‘space’ and ’place’ as we currently understand those terms.”
 In fact they had a third concept too – „kenon“, (Ancient Greek κενόν) that could mean: (a) pure emptiness, for example “nothingness”, (b) emptiness-as-a-void-space, for example between molecules, and (c) emptiness-as-an-empty-container, for example an empty bottle. (Algra 1994). The common thing between the meanings of kenon is there-where-something-is-not. (Lenhart, Is. 2011)
 Lenhart, Is. (2011). Kairotopos: A reflection on Greek space/time concepts as design implications in Minecraft, DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play. „Tópos is a location where things come together, it is a location which is a container for other things and is defined by those things. It is materially the same as chóra, but made less abstract by the property of relativeness, i.e. that it is set apart by what it contains.“
 Heterotopia is a concept in human geography elaborated by philosopher Michel Foucault to describe places and spaces that function in non-hegemonic conditions. These are spaces of otherness, which are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental, such as the space of a phone call or the moment when you see yourself in the mirror. Heterotopia follows the template established by the notions of utopia and dystopia. The prefix hetero- is from Ancient Greek ἕτερος (héteros, "other, another, different") and is combined with the Greek morphemes οὐ ("not") and τόπος ("place") and means "no-place". A utopia is an idea or an image that is not real but represents a perfected version of society, such as Thomas More's book or Le Corbusier's drawings. As Walter Russell Mead has written, "Utopia is a place where everything is good; dystopia is a place where everything is bad; heterotopia is where things are different — that is, a collection whose members have few or no intelligible connections with one another." (Quoted from Heterotopia (space), from Wikipedia)