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In the case of integrated services, Expertise France represents international donors or partner countries. This requires a radical repositioning of architecture: The Obscure Men of today, are the ones distorting knowledge not the ones restricting it. I work in the field of education with the certainty that I cannot teach someone what I know, this would never be enough. What we can teach is HOW TO learn, how the tools to learn can be found and how distortions can be detected; how to recognize our kin  and peers to learn from each other and interact to grow intellectually.
Our current era of bits and atoms, which is the era of digital information and making, is simultaneously bringing new educational formats. Low-cost or no-cost e-learning, open source culture and distributed educational programs are now accessible all over the Internet, the Fab Labs or Maker spaces. In the Advanced Architecture Lab, for example, we are currently working on the creation of energy from the roots of the plants, merging electronics with growth and soil; on a family of swarm robots that can adapt to weather conditions, and build with material found on site; on DIY wearables and AR devices as alternative navigation systems to reorganize the mobility; on a flying species for urbanized coasts, that learns to collect and digest micro plastic for future use from its environment.
Sometimes it is not clear if humans create machines as something separate from them, or if machines have to be integrated with humans to define novel, mixed spaces and species. As we said, we are intellectually, physically, physiologically inseparable from machines; Artaud in the BwO -Body without Organs- was emitting that our desirable machinery, through temperament, fluidity, cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, We are today also in this ontological debate we opened above: I want to come back to the notion of ecosophy, developed by Guattari.
I try to resume his concept divided into three parts: Which is the unicity of a human socialized in the swarm, in synchronicity with the multiple? The second part of the ecosophy is the current relation to nature as it is now, referring to the situation in real time, not what it should be or should have been. And the third is the subjectivity: As contemporary architects, we ignore two of these three ecologies of Guattari: We rarely use fictions to knot and unknot realities and de-alienate managerial top-down storytelling.
So we could assume that the tabula rasa, not only on geography, but on the mind machine, on psychocartography, is still dedicated and oriented by modernistic values we never really denounced. The forbidden is forbidden. At the moment we transcend accepted facts in science and we accept anomalies, allowing human subjectivity to enter, by default.
I find important to understand whether humans are impacting nature as one to one or if they are integrating it as one to many. In my idea, I perceive that we are in a moment wherein we have an augmented nature that shares certain similarities with the dark ecology of Timothy Morton. This brings a paradigm shift for architects and designers: Affected by and affecting nature at the same time.
All in all, the essence of our design and thinking is not limited to robots or mere technology: In those novel inhabitation models, space evolves with and through nature, not against it. We are not focusing on merely protect our built environment from the natural environment, neither we are distinguishing the two.
The ecological wisdom of architecture cannot be a metaphor. I would also add that we cannot use the grid of antagonism between pessimistic-idealistic, dystopia-utopia attitudes. For this reason we cannot forget to suspect them, from their early stages to their merchandising, not to be so harmless, not so inoffensive and innocent, beyond conventional discourses and self-conscious aesthetics.
We shouldn't believe in the symmetry of negative-positive, neither in any boundaries, when we deal with nature. Black ecology forces us to ask ourselves to which extend nature is bounded or not by artifice. What we know is that nature survives and develops without any need of maintenance and independently from any sort of aesthetics. On the contrary, artifice decays and it requires maintenance. We need to start thinking of a new artifice, mixed with natural elements, while allowing bottom-up processes to reveal unexpected ecologies which can bring solutions to current and future challenges.
This expanded state of nature and artifice, integrates both the augmented state of human culture and non-human natural systems; it operates in a complex contemporary ecosophy that can be found in a lot of contemporary works, although sometimes, indeed, it is considered more as a proof of concepts rather than as a real work. That's also something that we need, as architects, to take a step further. How can we transform our work, that usually is presented as experimenting prototypes or as concept proofs, to something that can really be applied not only to materiality, but rather to the emotional, political sense and mentality of our society?
A change of mentality related to what a building and an inhabitant is, what is the lifespan of a space, which is its materiality and how does it perform, is crucial for the ecosophic challenge. This is the moment in which, as architects, we need to make a big step forward, and that's why we need to strongly address the economical-political structures of our society, and the capitalist ecological violence.
Otherwise, we will stay on the margin talking among us, in a small circle, about what architecture could occasionally do, but without doing it. For me the schizophrenia and anthroposophy are a contemporary tooling, as algorithm and apparatuses. We have to reconquer a lost paradise, to quote Milton, to the condition that it will never be used as an eschatologist dream, or in the Fedorov trans-human boring phantasm of eternal life, millenarist eden park, secular post-religious eternity any more RealLive In the Biennale there were mainly lefties architects based on the idea of saving the world; unfortunately the same people were participating to the evacuation of the community centre to exclude the noisy and smelly homeless of the down town, mainly back people who stayed days around the building waiting their tour to take a shower and get food.
I've tried to protect, check on the internet, but all lefties wearing Prada, as Grima… looked at me and Camille, my partner, with condescendence. At the opposite, the week after, ACADIA was a meeting for geeks in short pants and jacket, playing ball or Frisbee in the courtyard, ignoring anything outside of the last Tech Fair. It's useless to tell them that the planet is burning: Education in architecture cannot be resume by niches, it has to embrace complexity. What we are urged to do is going out from the sterilized classroom environment. Like the example you were giving about the Biennale: If we want to promote new ideas, we need to do it in a very clear context and taking into consideration every agent that inhabits it, whether it is human or non-human.
This sterilized attitude of trying to delete everything that is creating noise, it's not valid anymore. The key for architecture is to imagine new processes of action and performance, considering that they are required to enter our way of making; the goal for us architects is not only thinking and acting as designers, but also trying to see ourselves more as collaborators, allowing other disciplines and agents to come into this process.
In this sense, black ecology doesn't refer to any star architect who is creating high-end final aesthetics and forms anymore: A simply creative or iconic design which produces no change, has been far from giving any solution to real challenges for too much time. We ignore the dimension but, more, the limit of iconoclasm. Could we recognize, identify the contemporary Barthesian mythologies? The architects, by nature, are always surfing on the equilibrium, between synchronicities and desynchronising, in real time and in differed times.
The revolutionaries Boulee, Ledoux, Lequeux were perfectly playing the game of these ambivalences, working for the king, and preparing the protest; as G. Semper in Germany, making the palace of the monarchy and ETH education temple and at the same time designing the barricade of Dresde, the citizens proto revolt which engaged the Commune of Paris later, and its music of the swarm, to quote Rimbaud.
So firstly we need to call a cat a cat: They are the one who are constructing a lot of ashamed and vulgar buildings. What we are talking about is to destabilize the icons, the system organized to maintain positions of privilege, actors of the ancient regime of post-capitalism.
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We are in a very accurate period-paradigm, as we were saying, wherein everything has to be re-shaped, redefined. Architecture and architects in the post-digital age are proletarians. It's the chance, in fact, to move and question education. We need to touch what is a theoretical technology, what is a disruptive technology, what is an erratic technology, etc. We need to corrupt our vision of technology, in particular its positivism and its determinism.
We have to renegotiate a degree of absurdism, in an Albert Camus or Lewis Caroll sense, including the possibility of being augmented, enhanced or reduced: In this sense technology should be a good friend, an extension of our own escape and drama, a synaesthesia to perceive complexities and contradictions, ambivalence and empathy… A: The calm technology, which is a key to the Black Ecologies principles, recedes into the background of our lives and it is not just a catalyst, but the foundation for social interaction.
We also need to understand that open-source culture, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, robots, smart- and bio-materials, are not just purely technological products: In this era of rapid innovation, Design emerges, once again, as the constructive synthesis of thought and action; additionally it shall be open to include an architecture of systemic correlation among humans, technology and nature, inter-species collaboration, de-growth, climate justice, and new forms of social and political inclusion.
These groups, in turn, can lead to cooperative behaviours that surpass the ability of the individuals. In fact, it could be said that you belong to a generation for which biennials and other related platforms—as opposed to traditional professional practices that achieve only buildings—have been the primary framework for the realization of their work.
It seems to be a symptom of generation X. Biennials should, in fact, be considered as a new paradigm for a client. Would you argue, then, that in using the exhibitions system as a means of resisting the conditions of the professional system, architecture has now conflated the two—that producing an exhibition has become the new professionalism? We contributed to past Venice Architecture Biennales according to a pendulum of values that alternated depending on the session: It produces a kind of family portrait—the cybernetic, prepubescent nerd facing the fake social-dreamer offspring, both of whom surveyed and controlled by the disenchanted incestuous grandfather.
This ping-pong effect is wittingly organized as a comfortable simulacrum of debates for a select happy few, along with an embedded journalist and some lost students, to talk exclusively to themselves. They are workers producing stuff without economy, without a clear agenda other than to eroticize their presence, to perform the show.
Why are architects so seriously boring? If we wear the uniform of architect, we are instrumentalized to be as stupid as possible and to follow a regime of mediocracy that is organized by fear, control, and bio-propaganda. But if we wear the uniform of a worker, we could go fishing and strike. Refusing the predictable format of discourse organized to be symmetrically inoffensive and immunized against here-and-now complexities.
Now the Chicago Architecture Biennial is the first of a new set.
Le knock-blot de Mr Ripley - page 3 (Jean-Pierre Voyer)
We also wonder, who is the audience? By the mere activity of consciousness I transform into a rule of life what was an invitation to death. Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner. Much has been made of the redesigning of this person from heroic man to fashion icon. Much has also been made of the fact that despite all the resources at her disposal—scientific, economic, medical, media, and PR power—she created an opportunity to merely recreate and reproduce the most banal of gender oppositions.
Now we are at the point when everybody can change identity with or without surgery. We won this inclusive right to be together and to share our idiocracy—whatever our appearance or sexual identity. We are no longer fighting the heroic battle of Judith Butler or Harvey Milk. Instead we are living in a Hieronymus Bosch triptych, with entertainment, music, torture, the sophistication of alienation, corrupted free will, and public masturbation as performance. Perhaps this was also a historical misunderstanding: Now that society is more permissive, a lot of that value is not there.
It became a trend, the rule not the exception. Your practice has been explicitly focused on the entangled ways in which architecture constructs both buildings and subjectivities. Since your practice is now long-lived enough to have its own history, where is your thinking on this matter today and how does it inform your current work?
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In our era of merchandising—when even the internet is becoming an egocentric TV show with cookies, likes, and smiley faces—to defend ourselves we are only left with mental spaces. Hostages to the society of the spectacle. Mirror of our own reflection. A thermodynamic flux, instable and improbable, where we are definitively shaping the planet with our substances—be it physical, physiological, psychological.
The natures of the Anthropocene are source of feedback and backlash, of vibrations that stutter, a kind of eco-machinist masochism. The Chicago Biennial will be the first display of your work since the restructuring of your practice and its relocation to Bangkok. If we say that Bangkok is, for you, the new Bohemia, we could also say that currently you are not only designing and producing new work, but that you are also constructing a new model of work and its conditions. To wit, what were the foundations of our world order are now the alligators in our basement.
How does that shape the way we understand the world-making implications of your work? Our work is itself the observing-enacting apparatus we engage with—the camera, the robotic behavior, the enclosing. We have a family of water monitors below the six-axes robots using extracted mud-dirt-clay to extrude small experimentations.
The crossing of species, natures, human matters, reason and madness, right and false, and the forbidden is the matrix of our daily agenda and routine. Fabrication is an artificial production, but in which sense? Does it mean that the way we project its physical entity as a reality is suspicious? In this case fabrication could be assimilated to a Decameron-esque strategy, stretching time to feed our need of illusion.
How are we to understand the term design today? Is its persistence valid or does it represent an irrepressible nostalgia that has set into the field? In front of the miserabilism of the dichotomy between techno-fetishism and techno-regression, we have to reevaluate what we used to call design as a process of synesthesia, of knowledge, crossing the conflict of ideology, criminal positivism, voluntary ignorance, performative cynicism. At the opposite, the French definition includes the notions of dessin and dessein drawing and plan , that is to say means and meanings, Gestalt and Gestaltung, both process and discovery.
In it, there is not a house at all. His drawing was both an act of radical reduction the elimination of all traditional architectural form and radical production the presence of an entirely new palette of architectural materials. Could you address more explicitly what you see is left, and what more is available for architecture today? I remember a model done by artist Mike Kelley of his college, where he tried to reproduce the school building by memory, by remembering the corridors and classrooms.
We are permanently confronted with this void. The negotiation with oneself. Our project for the Biennial, mythomaniaS, consists of a few vanitas-inspired works through fifteen apparatuses, mainly extracted from scenario-fabrication-fiction-movies, that we did in the last three years. Apparatuses refer to the notion developed by Michel Foucault and later by Giorgio Agamben. It is the unrevealed intention of those mythomaniaS case studies to restore apparatuses into common use, to push their overcoding a concept Deleuze and Guattari use to describe the process whereby singular human actions are integrated into dominant social structure in the visible spectrum.
To share this schizoid goal. I prefer to depersonalize the identity of the architect, rather than to represent myself by my avatar. I prefer a part of myself without it being my face.
And they promoted themselves more by their identity than by their work. How do you see the function of this cloaked identity in professional terms with your clients and the projects you produce for them? When you become a brand, you have to repeat yourself. Your reputation forces you to repeat what people are expecting from you. And it is a kind of cannibalism of yourself, an autophagy, where you promote yourself on the basis of your given self and never to try to change.
What are you doing? We are just commissioning you to be you, not to be something other than you. You are not only one. You can be a profusion of personalities. You can have a personality disorder. And to develop a personality disorder is a way to be an architect and to have several possibilities of infiltration.
So it gives you a perfect idea of your representation, but in fact it creates a prison of this representation. How does that work with the constantly evolving name of the firm? The name is something that changes, first depending on the partner. The name is absorptive. It is infused by the people inside the group. So if a new person is involved, the name of the group changes. And as a result in Google, we can be found by several names. If you add up all the names of the studio, you have more visibility by having many names rather than by one.
Also, more seriously, to change the name is to recognize that our office mutates. But I love this coincidence. What do you think is important for yourself in the shift you see in your practice? My experience was very lucky. Understand, they were completely eliminated by history, in France and in Europe. This radicality was eliminated, and even the people were eliminated, not only the work.
I remember in the library of my school, this entire period of radical architecture was absolutely not visible. These social experiments, language and conceptual experiments, and reprogramming, were completely inaccessible. I was lucky to rediscover in this way these people, that these grandfathers were still alive, how they found a way to survive without any commissions, and how they stayed alive with their dream intact. And to reprogram the position of the architect within society, which is very important for me. Not to take a position, not to use this genetic link from the father, but to be totally independent in the way we produce and in the way we think about our career.
There seem to be four trajectories that go through your projects: The richness of your work comes from the way that you interrelate these four sources. Or because of the imposition of a scenario, the geometry of the form of a project will deviate from the parametric logic used to set up the geometry.
Or when you combine a story that includes some kind of found desire with an applied technology that interests you, your goals seems to be not to create something that a project that is technologically advanced as a goal in itself. Instead, you use a sense of desire to inspire your technological creations to introduce us to a mutation, like the robot albino penguin. Can you talk a little bit about how you work? How would you describe your framework of thinking? You focus on the center-point of our work.
We love to tell stories. First we are telling stories, and we promote stories, like Hoffmann, Grimm, or Charles Perrault: It is a science fiction premise. When you tell stories, you use the context of your society.
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If you want the stories to penetrate, to infiltrate, and to be the vector of a transformation, you have to use the background of the society you are in. I rediscovered that NASA similarly first tells a story and then uses science to justify the story they tell.
The science is not exactly accurate and perfect for sure. It is way to navigate between reality and fiction. I think an architect has to move somewhat toward this possibility of telling stories, and to tell stories through the technology of today to describe the process of reality. And the architect should to do that within the story of reality itself. A main question for us is the degree of mass media culture we assume and consume. We are fed a lot of references. So the question is how we could find a way inside this consumption. We are inside mass media culture, and we have to reveal this, in my view.
What we are doing is rereading the artifacts we are producing, to understand how we are using the mass media to justify a position, and to accept that the references we are using are sometimes in contradiction with the real use or real production we are doing. In reference to the South Pole expedition project with Pierre Huyghe you have said that an expedition is an alibi for something else that you discover, and that the stories that we use in architecture a lot of times are alibis. That what we claim to be pursuing allows us to find something else.
How does that relate to your idea of fiction? Does fiction allow you to set out on a course, but what comes out of that course is not necessarily what first led you to that fiction? At the end of the 19th century there was the idea that the two poles were connected through the center of the planet.
It was a scientific possibility that the poles were joined by a big hole, by a big vortex going through the center. This hypothesis fell through very quickly. When Edgar Allen Poe wrote the book the hypothesis was dead. In other words, Poe started the book to justify the hypothesis, even though he knew the hypothesis was incorrect. So it is a fiction based upon an interesting but impossible reality. On a narrative level, the story does not end. The ending is inconclusive. It ends with them disappearing into a white haze, a white silhouette drifting in the white snow.
This possibility of the unfinished puts us all inside an ongoing continuous narrative. Not only through your own writing of a book, but the ability to come back into a work, like The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by infiltration and to create a contradiction in this work. He wrote the book to justify what happens in the end. He wrote it to show that science could explain the end. It could explain the white silhouette in the snow in the unfinished book of Edgar Allen Poe. My position is against Jules Verne.
My position is use science in an indeterminist way, using indeterminism as way to produce knowledge. It was about a self-organized aggregated urban structure where a social protocol became the random vector of the growing and entropic process… All of this is visible on our web site http: When you work in places far away, such as in Thailand, you neither explore project ideas from an externalized vantage point nor from an internally submerged one.
Not to fuck, and not to be fucked by, the context. You are corrupted by your situation, and at the same time you try to be at a distance from the situation because you bring your own skill and ability to understand the situation being from somewhere else. So you accept this confusion to speak about the inside and outside, to keep intact this borderline. Not be located as a self-prisoner to be fucked by the context , and not to be complicit with international corporations to justify your cynicism.
Can you talk about how you derive the multiple storylines for your projects? In Abecedaire, a video of Deleuze, he takes each word, and he explains each word, and you understand all the ways, the confusion, and the rhetoric, he introduces in every word of his writing by way of what he calls approximation. This project of approximation by Deleuze is not perfectly understood in the U. I think an architect has to approach a problem by approximation, with several entrances, and to keep intact the several entrances, even if they are opposites, or if they are contradictory, because we have several labels and we have also several inputs and outputs.
So I both dominate and am dominated. Both movements are interesting. I am speaking about the naivety of integrity. In any situation, you could avoid seeing reality, as a pure strategy of naivety, or you could deny reality, or you could also dramatize reality by using fear. Our work tries to make the context visible, to make visible the materiality of the situation. In doing so, we are also corrupting the situation. For instance, I cannot change the climate of Bangkok, which is one of the most polluted in the world, for many reasons.
I cannot promote perfect, clean architecture in the context where the pollution is a principle condition of the city. Of course it critiques the failure of urbanism, or the failure of human development. I just want to use the biotope as it is, and to avoid denying this reality, and to avoid dramatizing this reality to promote fear, just to show it. Each context develops its own reality.
Does your use of the word biotope mean the interaction of human desires, technologies, and economies? What do you mean by biotype in reference to an urban environment? Could you talk more about biotope and urbanism? The territory is the critical dimension of your survival. Biotope for me is this sense of territory, where material and immaterial spaces weave together, and interact to create multiple scenarios of a context. And even the necros. Bangkok is like that. The city accepts the death of buildings. There are many buildings that die, which are unoccupied, or unfinished.
In the Bangkok skyline, it is incredible how, for many reasons, there are unfinished buildings. You talk about your work both in terms of a political dimension and an animal dimension. In your projects there are oxen, there are albino penguins, there are elephants. What is it that you want to convey through the animal elements? Is it to activate an atavistic dimension in the reality of your projects?
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I remember reading in some book that in the Middle Ages people could legally prosecute animals or trees. When a tree fell down in the street, the tree would be put on trial to determine the extent of its guilt. It was really interesting that every species could be put on trial and condemned, not only humans but also nature. We talk always about the guilt of human destruction. It clearly could be killed a second time. Our work involves is a horizontal reprogramming of our relationship to predation, to the biotope. We no longer have the possibility of escaping the condition of our failure.
We can no longer destroy or explode the biotope, and expect to move to another one, or to restore ourselves by destroying ourselves again. We are inside the system of our own destruction and reconstruction. It was the end of the odyssey, it was the end of the escape. You can no longer escape when you see the status of the moon.
It created our acceptance our own biotope, not humans as a higher intelligence, but as a parameter of this biotope, as one of its elements. If we put ourselves in the right mind place, we can renegotiate this position, renegotiate with other spaces, nature and the wild. They are modifying their sexuality. They are modifying their physiology to survive in this condition. The world has become a laboratory, and wild animals are included in this laboratory, transforming their own physiology to survive, to increase their possibilities of reproduction by a hermaphroditic transformation.
The position of the polar bear interests me. They are not in denial, they are not dramatizing, just mutating themselves, to accept and to survive in this new condition. What I love is the albino penguin robot, and the transnatural characters, partly animal, partly robotic, artificial. To talk about this point, I think it is best to see a movie by the young Kurosawa, the Japanese moviemaker, called Charisma.
They are from the dinosaur period, so everybody takes care of the trees, to be sure that the trees survive. They discover that these trees are killing all the nature around them from their toxicity. But the forest is part of our economy — for the production of wood, to make paper, to make buildings, and so on. Primitive nature destroys domesticated nature.
At the end of the movie, they destroy the trees from the dinosaur period to be sure that cultivated nature survives. Reintroducing wildness within this ideology of control is of interest for me. For example the nature of Bangkok is something without prediction. It has the possibility to react, to deform itself, and to develop its own singularity when confronted with a situation. What is interesting in the hidden algorithm of Bangkok is that it cannot be visualized or predicted. Many of your projects use textiles. What do you see as the relation between the textiles and the forms that your work takes?
We started the textile project five years ago, when it was impossible to get a construction permit. We were operating at a site under the control of the Patrimonial Archaeological Survey. We did the project in textiles to assert that it was impermanent. We received permission to make the textile project because technically it was defined as a tent. Inside, we colonized the tent to make a private house. It was a strategy to jump over the problem - to justify a tent not a building. We created an un-resistant house. In this project we were confronted with complex geometry and a medium budget.
This was a problem. We discovered at this time that textiles are very cheap. So our strategy was to build a complex geometry with cheap materials; other parts were designed very Euclidean and basic with traditional means of production. Many projects in the studio are a little bit schizophrenic in being Euclidean and complex in shape as a result of finding way to realize the whole. In that sense, our studio is a reacting studio.
A situation is a perfect way for me to understand how I could move around in a new way and to understand a situation of complexity. I prefer to surf with the Valley boys in Malibu. I prefer to waste time than to be an architect. What is interesting for the studio is to understand how we could tell stories, and how the stories could infiltrate the stories that the system is producing. One last thing, do you believe there is a potential for symbolism today? When you tell stories do you employ symbolic references in the forms you use? Is the symbolism of turning back to go forward significant or is this difficulty intended to produce a certain affective state?
Symbolism reduces reality to iconography. In this sense, no, we are not using symbolism at all. We want to implement something phenomenological in the bridge. You need to use the bridge to understand the difficulty in crossing over a country border, over to another culture. When you develop a narrative you need to develop a storyline. In the development of a story, the intelligence of the characters and the situation validate the story.
Territory is an term that is of interest to me because there is a multiple disorder in a territory. It clearly cannot be reduced in one way. I really prefer an attitude of weaving relationships rather than to create a symbolism of the characters. Weaving a story of relationships of characters creates a psychological complexity. And to avoid minimizing or reducing this woven story to one way—be it a technological, biological, or construction one—to leave open the possibility for the narration to go further, even after the building is constructed.
That is really important for me, specifically with the buildings we are creating, which try to let the doors open, to unfinish the stories. Cela faisait de nous des orphelins. Nous appelons cela Dispositifs. Purple Prose qui est devenu bien autre chose par la suite.
Vous effectuez alors des collaborations avec Phillipe Parreno et Pierre Huyghe par exemple. Pourriez-vous nous parler de la relation que vous entretenez avec ce domaine des Arts, dans le carde de votre travail? When Attitudes Become Form, Berne, , illustre a contrario parfaitement cela. Nous voulions aussi reprendre possessions des attitudes. Il y fait beaucoup plus chaud. Et quelle vision portez-vous sur cet enseignement en France? Je ne transmets rien.