Posted: 13 July 2018     |     Author: Prof Lesley Lokko

In this performance, Bartlett doctoral student Thandi Loewenson will take the audience on a journey; from the fringes of the real, through the many realms of the weird and settling in a site that is decidedly tender. Through many voices, she will share how developing the story of a weird, fictional city called Mailo – through writing, drawing and performance – is enabling a community of waste pickers and the Lusaka City Council to work together towards producing a tender to manage the city dump site.

 As she describes it, 'Mailo is a test of the possibilities of an architectural interpretation of the literary genre of the New Weird; where politically engaged, urban, secondary world fictions are created which draw on real world models and combine elements of science fiction and fantasy. Through the tender process, I explore how stories told and scenes enacted in Mailo - a parallel and possible representation of Lusaka developed through dialogue, drawings and site-specific performances at the dump - can be used to disrupt perceived notions of the city, reinventing it to be discovered again by those who live there. Through weird interventions into the tender, where the other worldly becomes a lens for reflecting on lived experience and potential futures, and a tactic in creating new platforms for engagement, I am crafting a mode of architectural practice between designer, state and community. Here, fiction becomes a form combat, allowing neglected socially and ecologically beneficial practices already taking place in Lusaka to come to the fore.'