Léopold Lambert – Paris on September 16, 2020
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I’m happy to introduce you to a new small project, which takes us back a bit in the history of The Funambulist as it both involves architecture as a discipline (that thing I was trained in) and our blog as a medium (between 2010 and 2015, it was the only Funambulist medium!). For the next three weeks, we’d like to feature every day the profile and work of a person who recently graduated from architecture school, and who we believe to be a game-changer in the otherwise colonial white-dominated male and heteronormative conservative discipline of architecture. I know for a fact that it’s always been hard within the discipline to argue for a vision of architecture that makes it accountable for the numerous instances in which it materializes and enforces a colonial, racist, ableist, and/or patriarchal political order, and perhaps even harder to imagine revolutionary uses (we might even say “counter-uses”) of it. It most certainly remains hard today but a new generation of future architects who formed their political imaginary far from the canons of the discipline — far from the discipline itself even — is now emerging.
They’ve read Toni Morrison, Frantz Fanon, Steve Biko, Angela Davis, Michel Foucault (not just the fucking panopticon part!), Edward Said, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Paul B. Preciado, etc. They’ve participated to the South African Fees Must Fall revolt, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Sudanese Revolution, the Marche pour Adama, the Anti-CAA protests in India, etc. They’ve also learned from a few rare formidable professors who probably learned just as much from them. For many of us who have seen their political engagement within architecture schools met with silence, laughter, disdain, or even anger one or two decades ago, it is a deeply moving joy (it’s not an exaggeration) to see that numerous members of this new generation, despite still many institutional obstacles placed on their path (slightly moved at times when global antiracist, feminist, and queer uprisings make it impossible for conservative institutions not to adjust, however little) refuses to not see for what architecture is: a political weapon: almost always used for the powerful and, at times, transformed by and for the “powerless.” This project therefore aims at honoring, learning from, and standing in solidarity with them.
It also aims at bringing visibility to their work as, too often, young architecture graduates have no choice but to find a job in an environment that does not allow them to continue the hard politicized work that they had initiated at school; sometimes even, what they have to contribute to in offices goes the exact opposite way. We’re currently working on an online platform that will try its best to put in relation these young designers with partner organizations or institutions that could be interested in their profiles for events, workshops, commissions or, who knows, jobs. This will still need a couple of months to be finalized and in the meantime, we’d like to propose this three-week project as a small way to promote their work.
Some of the people presented here are no stranger to The Funambulist; we already collaborated and have even published some of them. For some others, we were looking for the appropriate opportunity to work together; this project makes it happen. And some others were generously oriented to us by a few good friends who had the luck to encounter their paths in the recent past.