• Lumumba in Space: African Space Programs and the Project of Liberation
    Thandi Loewenson

Thandi Loewenson, “Studies of the Zambian Space Programme: A Taxonomy of Flight. The Flag,” 2020. Graphite on paper. Courtesy the artist

This project investigates the role of space programs in the struggles for liberation from colonialism in six African countries—from late 1950s to present day—towards developing an understanding of how these programs contribute to emancipated constructions of Black self, Black statecraft, and Black people, in relation to earth and its resources. The project involves site-specific research in Ethiopia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Africa to tease out the political, performative and poetic dimensions through which these projects expand the possibilities of Black presence and futurity. Culminating in a series of performance lectures bringing six programs, histories, and sites into dialogue, addressed to the United Nations’ Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, new terrains of engagement in design research are forged: drawing archival, speculative, and performance practice into international policy formulation towards advocating for an emancipatory politics and poetics of Blackness in space, here on earth.

Thandi Loewenson is an architectural designer/researcher who operates through design, fiction and performance to interrogate our perceived and lived realms and to speculate on the possible worlds in our midst. Loewenson holds a PhD in architectural design from The Bartlett and is a tutor at the Royal College of Art, a visiting professor at the Aarhus School of Architecture (Denmark) an Azreili Visiting Critic at Carleton University (Canada). She is a cofounder of the architectural collective BREAK//LINE—an “act of creative solidarity” which “resists definition with intent”—which confronts the frontiers of oppression in architectural education and practice today. Loewenson is also a contributor to EQUINET, the Regional Network on Equity in Health in East and Southern Africa, a cofounder of the Fiction, Feeling, Frame research group at the Royal College of Art and a cocurator, with Huda Tayob and Suzi Hall, of the open-access curriculum project,