Elfriede Dreyer  > Curating  > Art  > Publications 

Ship of fools series (2012, ongoing)

In summary the Ship of fools series of works has been profoundly influenced by Michel Foucault's theory of heterotopology and the derivative idea of a 'ship of fools'. In Des espaces autres. Hétérotopies of 1984 (English translation: Of other spaces, 1986), the philosopher (Foucault 1986:27) points to the boat as a "heterotopia par excellence", since " … the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea and that, from port to port" (Foucault 1986:27). Foucault thus derives a sense of  place that exists by its own rule (heterotopia), in relation to a particular economic structure, and infused by imaginative projections, a construct that is appropriated. These ideas are applied to the context of the Apies river flowing through Tshwane and at once also one of the founding reasons for the establishment of Pretoria, the city. Ship of fools 1, 2012, was the first to deal with this theme. In Ship of fools 5 (2013), the garden stereotype of dark, sensual exotic Africa as discovered and penetrated by the coloniser is articulated. The water of the Apies is rendered as mystical, magical and as a repository of the utopian ideas projected onto Africa by both the colonisers of the pre-twentieth-century period, as well as by an influx of diasporic Africans currently gathering in the vicinity of the Apies as the historical centre of Pretoria in a search for better-world conditions.n a reductionist scheme of two dialogical elements, Ship of fools 3 (2013), engages with the heterochrony of ideology and place, embodied in the images of the lion as Dutch representing colonial strategies and ideals, as well as its African counterpart depicted as having become a powerless porcelain nice-to-have. This work engages with Foucault's fourth principle that postulates heterotopias as "most often linked to slices in time-which is to say that they open onto what might be termed, for the sake of symmetry, heterochronies.