Author: Minette Murphy

Unearthed Flight: A Reflection on Gravity

Studio: ARCS 5106 – MArch Option Studio 2 – Deep Dust | The Killing Dark

Professor: Ozayr Saloojee

Year: Winter 2021

Project Description

This deep section explores the axis between the depths of the earth, and the far reaches of outer space. It puts forward a speculative future, depicting the precise moment that the South African National Space Agency’s rocket is taking off from the mouth of a mine.

Influenced by the brilliance of Thandi Loewenson, an architectural designer who speculates on possible worlds, this project posits space travel as emancipatory act. In her film “A taxonomy of flight,” Loewenson reflects on Zambia’s 1960s space program. Once ridiculed in the media, the venture is cast in a new light. Loewenson states, “the Zambian Space Program required of Black Zambians to craft a narrative in which Black people were themselves no longer seen as resources, as minerals, and were not only free to flourish on earth but could aspire to even greater heights too.”1  She continues, “That this group of Zambian astronauts never made it into orbit is neither here nor there. […] Arguably, in conceiving of and constructing the program, the journey Nkoloso sought to undertakewas already successful.”2

With this powerful reflection in mind, this drawing takes on space travel as a metaphor for liberation. Reaching for the stars acts as a counter to Johannesburg’s past of resource extraction, that of mining for gold into the depths of the earth.


Serpentine Galleries, “Thandi Loewenson, A Taxonomy of Flight,” YouTube video, 25:04, December 10, 2020,