Léopold Lambert

PublisherThe Funambulist2014
This conversation is an introduction to the research conducted by Greg Barton for his thesis at CCCP (Critical, Curatorial & Conceptual Practices) at Columbia University. This research is essentially focused on Diego Garcia island situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a territory that was never decolonized and remains under British sovereignty. The island hosts a US military basis that was used for its geographic location during the cold war, the first Gulf War, and now the so-called “war on terror.” Similarly to Guantanamo’s Camp Delta, a legal narrative had to be produced in order for the basis to operate ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2014
This discussion with Momoyo Homma about the work of artists/poets/philosophers/architects Arakawa (1936-2010) and Madeline Gins (1941-2014) took place in the Reversible Destiny Lofts Mitaka where the Tokyo part of the Arakawa/Gins office is situated. We begin by introducing their work through a biographic approach, then through our interpretations of the manifesto “We Have Decided Not to Die,” which fuels the creative process of the five architectural projects built in Japan and in the United States, as well as the multitude of non-built ones. We conclude the conversation by describing the space around us, one of the Reversible Destiny Lofts: its bumpy floor, its sphere ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This discussion with local architect Miloš Kosec about three (hi)stories of ruins in WWII Slovenia uses the structure of his Master thesis research about this topic. After an introduction about the sometimes problematic fascination one might develop for ruins, we begin our specific conversation with the example of the ruins of entire ethnic German areas in southern Slovenia emptied of their inhabitants after they were encouraged to move back to Germany by the Reich administration. The second example is found in the numerous medieval castles burnt by the partisans in their fight against the Axis in what appear to Miloš as a more ideological ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2016
This conversation addresses an important aspect of Merve Bedir’s work (along with Jason Hilgefort at Land+Civilization Compositions) regarding the architectural and linguistic dimension of Turkish politics regarding the 2.5 million refugees the country currently “hosts” — the very notions of “host” and “guest” are the first things discussed here. Through the description of several sites of either appropriation or dispossession/detention by and of refugee bodies in Istanbul and in other regions of Turkey, we try to think of the architect’s political role and responsibility, remembering however that we must always doubt of our own actions when they have such drastic consequences. Merve ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2017
This conversation was recorded with Hoda Katebi, the self-defined “sarcastic (& angry) Muslim-Iranian writer, photographer, and activist living in Chicago” behind the political fashion blog JooJoo Azad (“free bird” in Farsi) to be featured in The Funambulist 15 (Jan-Feb. 2018) Clothing Politics #2. In January 2017, a few days after the inauguration of the current U.S. President and the subsequent massive feminist protest, she wrote an article entitled “Please Keep Your American Flags Off My Hijab” about which we discuss in this interview, along with many other facets of her work with regards to clothing in relation to imperialism, capitalism ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2017
This conversation with Myriam Dao, Nathalie Muchamad, Miki Nitadori & Ayomih intends to examine the specificity of anti-Asian in France. Although it was recorded in January 2017, it resonates with a particularly urgent echo today as, a few day ago, the French police killed Liu Shaoyo, a 56-year-old Chinese Parisian, in his own apartment, in front of his four (French) children. Far from the ‘simple’ observations of biased prejudices that characterize many conversations about racism deployed against Asian bodies, this conversation examines how this racism in France finds its roots deep into colonialism, in French “Indochina” (Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos) of ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with two members of a relatively new whistleblowing platform — we called them Sarah and Cleo to preserve their anonymity — intends to present the latter. It allows people working on development projects in London to leak information that can be used by local inhabitant associations to organize in time their defense against their planned eviction. We discuss the platform both theoretically — the conceptual approach to disobedience will be presented in the next conversation with Elena Loizidou — and practically, through the perspective of (often young) architects working in development projects, and the ones of local associations through the workshops organized ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2016
“The definition of an ominous optimist is someone that goes through bad days in his life but is still optimistic for the future” says Mat Randol in “Ominous optimist ft. the solar system.” Such an affirmation synthesizes well the tone of this conversation with Mawena Yehouessi & Steffi Njoh Monny, respectively founder and editor-in-chief of the online platform Black(s) to the Future. In it, we discuss about the political role of science fiction and speculative visions for the African diaspora through humor and (terrestrial and extraterrestrial) gravity. Steffi Njoh Monny, as in Steffi Graf — same name, same date of birth, only twenty ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation is the second one recorded live at Studio-X Amman Lab (the first one being with Rahel Aima & Ahmad Makia). Recorded with Dena Qaddumi, it attempts to propose a struggle narrative for Palestine that is not focused on Jerusalem to which many of us contribute, thus participating to a debate mostly focused on the 1967 war. By examining the spatial politics of Jaffa-Tel Aviv, Dena attempts to show that similar “ethonocratic” logic of segregation are also at work in an environment admittedly less militarized. This logic also incorporates the same capitalist mechanisms of gentrification at work in other cities ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with Stéphanie Dadour evolves around her doctoral dissertation that studies architectural theory and practice in the end of 20th-century North America. We explore a particular chapter of this dissertation to continue a series started with Olivia Ahn and Karen Tongson, about the gendered spatial paradigm constituted by the American suburbia. Citing the works of Mary McLeod, Beatriz Colomina, Joel Sanders and other feminist/queer thinkers and architects, we address architectural elements proper to this paradigm, such as the lawn, the curtain, or the window as instances of gendered apparatuses. We conclude the conversation by examining anthropometric studies, as well ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with Fabiola López-Durán is primarily structured around her work exploring Le Corbusier’s eugenic ideology from 1925 Paris to 1941 Vichy. At a moment when many events and debates are organized around his paradigmatic work, the main critiques seem to focus on his personal political engagement and ideology without fully engaging with the work and its consequences. What Fabiola proposes in her work is to take his claims for the orthopedic power of architecture seriously, and look at the vision of society it is therefore promoting. Although Le Corbusier’s example might be canonical, her argument is that the entire modernist ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with Caren Kaplan introduces the work she has been conducting for her forthcoming book dedicated to a genealogy of aerial photography (and painting) and its militarization leading to the ‘age of the drone’ we currently experience. We begin with the development of the balloon, the progressive learning necessary to understand this new point of view on the world and the simultaneous success of panorama paintings. We then evoke the creation of the British Board of Ordinance and its survey of Scotland as part of the counter-insurrectionist effort to control the terrain against the Jacobites. We conclude the discussion in ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2018
This conversation with Francesca Russello Ammon is built around her book, Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape (2016), which retraces the political history of the bulldozer by the United States during World War II (used in the Pacific War by the SeaBees) and immediately following it in the massive engineering of the U.S. territory in cities and between them. This discussion can act as an addition to the contents featured in The Funambulist 17 (May-June 2018) Weaponized Infrastructure. Francesca Russello Ammon is a cultural historian of urban planning and the built environment. Her research focuses on the social, material, and cultural life ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation is the first of three recorded in Cairo about Cairo. Beth Stryker and Omar Nagati, through the description of their research and design work, introduce us to the post-revolution city and its multiple forms of informal architectures. We begin by evoking tbe numerous passage ways of Downtown and the work of Cluster to rehabilitate two of them. We then describe these forms of informality, the danger in romanticizing them — by systematically assuming that they advance the common good — and what can be learn from them. We then conclude by problematizing the act of cartographying what was not ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2016
This second conversation of the series complementing the latest issue of The Funambulist Magazine dedicated to Design & Racism borrows its title from Audre Lorde’s words cited by Mabel O. Wilson at the beginning of the “Critical Dialogues on Race and Modern Architecture” that she organized at Columbia University in February 2016. Throughout this discussion, we talk about architecture’s historical and contemporary contribution to the American structural racism against Black bodies. Professor Mabel O. Wilson teaches architectural design and history/theory courses at Columbia University’s GSAPP. She is also appointed as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) ...

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Publisher2014
There has been many things written about the urban transformations of Paris orchestrated by Napoleon III’s prefect, the “Baron” Haussmann; many of which address the militarized causes of these transformations, as I often did myself. This aspect of the transformations is admitted by Haussmann himself in his memoirs as part of the strategy. The first part of the 19th-century saw many insurrections and revolutions happening in Paris (1830 revolution, 1832 insurrection, 1848 revolution, etc.) and Napoleon III, after his 1851 coup, was certainly eager to transform Paris to be able to control it. The large avenues and boulevards were thus ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
The Dalieh of Raouche is a large publicly accessible rock situated at the extremity of West Beirut peninsula (see map and photos below). Like many coastal sites in Lebanon, it is currently the object of a private development plan, which tackles many questions about legal property, as well as social, ecological, and archaeological preservation. In December 2014, the Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche wrote an open-letter to Rem Koolhaas, the master-planner of the project, in order to raise this questions in the public debate. This letter was shared at a scale that went beyond the sole city ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2014
This conversation with Alexander Weheliye is built upon the critique he made of the work of Giorgio Agamben, in particular in his essentialization of the muselmann in the context of the Holocaust. Alexander argues that slavery functions as a better paradigm to understand the “layering” of bare lives and the racial aspects that this understanding involves. He explains how he is interested in finding other ways to “claim humanity” than the traditional judicial one that attributes this status in a retroactive manner to suffering bodies. In order to do so, we evoke the works of major African-American and black Caribbean thinkers such as Hortense ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
Lucie Bacon and I had this conversation only a few days after she finished her second field trip in Bosnia-and-Herzegovina where her research took her to study the European Union politics of “externalization,” i.e. the ‘subcontracting’ of its (anti-)migration policies outside of the Shenghen Space. Lucie has visited some asylum centers, where numerous migrants wait to be granted their legal status, and detention centers, where migrant bodies are imprisoned prior to their expulsion. She collected numerous testimonies from migrants themselves, but also organizers, activists, administrative officials, etc. and tell us about them in this discussion. We also talk about her ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with May al-Ibrashy is the last one of a series of twelve recorded in the Levant and Egypt. In it, we discuss the current political situation of Egypt after the 2011 revolution and the 2013 military coup d’état. As she writes, “my new motto [is] if you’re not confused, you’re stupid.” Trying not to fall into stupidity, we thus attempt to question the various problems that creates such a confusion, in particular when it comes to heritage. In this regard, the fire at the Institut d’Egypte that burned thousands of documents in December 2011 is exemplary of a political ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with Hana Sleiman begins a series of several around the Palestinian question(s). After evoking her archiving work of historical Arabic comic books and their construction of a political imaginary, Hana and I talk about this important construction of a Palestinian Oral History Archive at the American University of Beirut. This archive comprises about a thousand hours of interview with Palestinian having experienced the 1948 Nakba and its evictive violence. We particularly insist on the embraced subjectivities of such narratives, stressing that what is remembered and how it is remembered is more important than the illusory ambition of an ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
Paris’s Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture (ESA) is 150 years old this year. For the last two years however, this association’s current director, François Bouvard, has imposed a pedagogy and internal politics that is perceived by most students and teachers as profoundly conservative, if not despotic. In the beginning of April 2015, the firing of nine (unionized) members of the school administration has triggered a strike followed by the overwhelming majority of students, as well as many teachers, demanding the director’s resignation, the re-hiring of the nine fired members of the association, as well as a significant shift in the school’s pedagogy. In this conversation, ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2014
In this conversation, we discuss about Gustavo Ciriaco’s choreographic work in order to address the politics of movement of the body – what we commonly call “dance” – in the public space. As a base for this discussion, we particularly talk about his piece, entitled “Here whilst we walk,” which consists in inviting a group of people to walk silently in a city while being surrounded by an elastic rubber band. On the contrary of other conversations part of the Latin American podcast series, we remain relatively non-specific for most of the conversation, before finally addressing the specificity of the ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2014
In this conversation that occurred before her presentation at New York’s Left Forum, Tings Chak and I discuss about the historical and contemporary racialized treatment of migrant bodies in North America and Europe. Refused, expelled, marginalized, or detained, the migrant body is a precarious one. Through Ting’s upcoming graphic-essay book, we talk about carceral architecture, in particular the one that embodies the numerous migrant detention centers in Canada. What does that mean at a legal standpoint to be incarcerated not for punishing reasons but for administrative reasons? How does architecture unfold violence upon bodies through its very physicality? What would ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2014
Nick Caverly received me in Detroit a day after I arrived in the city whose population and economy has been drastically shrinking for the last decades and is now populated with a multitude of ruins and empty lots. We discuss about the governance of the city that is now piloted by an “Emergency Finance Manager,” who reduced public service to a worrisome level, mostly detrimental to the most impoverished populations of the city. We also talk of the newcomers in the city, the white “creative class,” which, despite a commendable optimism tends to develop an imaginary that omit the existence ...

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