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In the Middle Ages there was a hierarchic ensemble of places sacred places and profane places protected places and open exposed places It was this complete hierarchy this opposition this intersection of places that constituted what could be very roughly be called medieval space the space of emplacement Of Other Spaces Foucault 22 The Cloisters a division of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Fort Tryon Park poses an interesting juxtaposition--a roughly hewn building of stone nestled in the midst of an open and organic natural space This arrangement brings to mind the true cloisters of medieval times By definition a cloister refers to an architectural feature It is literally an open aired walkway around an interior quadrangle many times occupied by a garden Historically however these cloisters were used often in monasteries and convents where the religious inhabitants were secluded from the outside world Thus the word cloister became associated with the secluded monastery that the Cloisters museum imitates today In the quote above Michael Foucault comments briefly on the hierarchy of medieval space in his article Of Other Spaces The medieval cloister does not stray from the concept of the hierarchy It is one of the sacred and protected places in direct opposition to the profane and open exposed places Foucault speaks of Although there is a certain degree of comfort in an enclosed and protected space there is also the inevitable sense of enclosure and captivity From aspects as massive as the Cloisters architecture as a whole to details such as the artwork contained within its walls the theme of captivity is always prominent As Foucault states everything in medieval society had its place The cloisters were a place of religious seclusion and reflection for the brothers and sisters of the Church to live beyond the confines of regular life These confines included the need to earn money and the need to procure food to survive The cloister offered
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