Paul Virilio (b. 1932) trained at the École des Métiers d’Art, specializing in stained-glass art work, and subsequently worked alongside Henri Matisse and Georges Braque. He studied phenomenology with Maurice Merleau-Ponty at the Sorbonne and in 1958 conducted a phenomenological inquiry into military space. In 1963, he began collaborating with the architect Claude Parent and formed the ‘Architecture Principe’ group. The pair went on to build the Saint-Bernadette du Banlay church at Nevers. After the May 1968 uprising in Paris, Virilio was appointed a professor by the students at the École Spéciale d’Architecture. In 1975, he co-organized the Bunker Archéologie exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, a collection of texts and images relating to the ‘Atlantic Wall’. With L’Insécurité du territoire (1976) and Vitesse et Politique (1977), he began the publication of a series of remarkable essays that have had a major influence on French social thinking. He retired from full-time teaching in 1998 and moved to La Rochelle. In recent years, he has concentrated on writing, on social and political activism, and on mounting high-profile exhibitions (Unknown Quantity, 2003, and Native Land, 2009, at the Fondation Cartier in Paris).
Translated by Chris Turner
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