Women on Aeroplanes

agency for flying ideas

Inflight Magazine | Evening Class Exhibition | Gathering | Research | Film Production


The Aeroplanes they travel with are real. But sometimes they stand still or land themselves. (Kojo Laing, Woman of the Aeroplanes, 1988)

Women on Aeroplanes is a research-based, artistic project. Based on a framework that is necessarily constantly evolving and multiplying, it aims to gain a broader understanding of what independence and interdependence means, enabling us to see and understand the presence of a shattered, yet powerful, women-informed network of interdependencies and dependencies.

Looking closely at the long history of transatlantic networks and the struggles for liberation, predating the process of independence on the African continent (and elsewhere), it explores how women were always central to such networks and struggles, in which they played multiple roles. Their stories are however hardly told and their faces remain widely invisible. We aim to not only frame their various and heterogeneous contributions, politically and artistically, but also create new parameters and premises of narratives. To recall the notion of independence today necessarily means to address the gap between formal independence and a process of decolonisation that was simultaneously national and intranational, transnational and international and which remains, in many ways, incomplete.

The project's title is borrowed loosely from Kojo Laing's critically acclaimed second novel Woman of the Aeroplanes, written in 1988. With its deconstructive syntax and implosion of genres, the novel sets the tone for a historical narrative, in which subordinate subject-object relations are negated. Laing’s method of speculative fiction writing can be seen as a making-of-theory using other means. As a reference point, it opens a pathway to a new grammar that makes re-visiting and re-writing history possible.  

Furthermore, Women on Aeroplanes opens up a range of associative meanings connected to travelogues, class-system, accessibility, choice of profession, crossing borders, dress-codes and not least, the importance of national airlines in the euphoric days of independence. The longing for independence often accompanies the claim for freedom of movement, be it a geographical, political or artistic crossing of time and space.