Holding Up The Ladder


Topher Campbell

Season 3, Ep. 10

ADVISORY: This episode contains adult themes unsuitable for younger audiences

In this week’s episode of HUTL we’re talking about the idea of radical homelessness. Where do we find home? What does home mean? Is home a physical or geographical location, is it a state of being or is it both? And how does this idea of home manifest itself within the context of black queer masculinity?! To help me answer some of these complex questions, I’m joined by artist and filmmaker director, filmmaker, writer, broadcaster, and theatre practitioner Topher Campbell.

Topher Campbell’s practice spans broadcasting, theatre, performance, writing, experimental film and site-specific work. His focus has been on sexuality, masculinity, race, human rights, memoir and climate change. In 2000 he co-founded rukus! Federation a Black Queer arts collective with photographer Ajamu X. 

We talk about pro-blackness, pro-blackness that doesn’t mean anti-white, it’s not anti anything, it’s ‘pro’. It is as he and Ajamu X sought to do with rukus! Federation moving away from the idea of black people as victims and more about redefining and repositioning themselves publicly. 

We interrogate the idea of home, of belonging. For Topher, belonging doesn’t mean approval but rather ‘how you bear witness to your existence’. We talk about why he chose to walk through the streets of New York naked for his 2014 film Fetish. A kind of artistic response piece to the police murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice in 2014. Topher loves to walk through cities, this idea that something so mundane can be for the black body a surveilled, unsafe, violent place. How, as Topher explains, the Black body is never neutral.

Guest: Topher Campbell

Title: The Black Body is never neutral

Artists on playlist: Dudu Pukwana, Fela Kuti, Earthgang, Spillage Village

Support his film Encounters

Full Bio

IMDB page 

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Links to Topher's work:

rukus! Federation

rukus! Federation Article

Topher Campbell and Billy Bragg article in The Independent

Sussex University Graduation Speech


The Homecoming


Learn more about Airbnb's work with housing


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