The art of taxi art

M&G | Zaza Hlalethwa

In 2014, as a part of the Joburg Photo Umbrella at the Market Photo Workshop, taxis were covered with works from photographer Jerry Gaegane’s series Marang a Letsatsi, which documents the living conditions of informal miners on the West Rand and around Johannesburg. Six taxis on the Bree Street taxi rank’s Dobsonville to Soweto route were selected. The mobile exhibition, which ran from October 24 to December 24, was an exploration of ways to create interaction between commuters and art. This initiative became a catalyst for the taxi industry’s involvement in the art world on a national level. In 2015, SA Taxi — a company that provides credit to entrepreneurs in the minibus taxi industry — initiated the SA Taxi Foundation Art award, which gives finalists an opportunity to display their artwork on 60 minibus taxis.

In 2017, the prize was awarded to Banele Khoza, a fine arts graduate from Tshwane University of Technology, for his body of work, Untitled. Khoza’s work comments on what he refers to as the complexities of the African identity. In an earlier interview with SABC News, Khoza spoke about being an African. “When I entered the competition the question I had to answer was: What does it mean to be an African? I can’t answer that for everyone. Being called African or identifying as African is a problematic identity, as Africans don’t share the same reality — there’s a vast difference between the countries within Africa. The internet has blanketed the world and offers one a global perspective. So, identifying as anything has become a choice.” To put this message across, the taxi wrap sees Khoza using pastel blues, pinks and purples to paint crowds paying homage to commuters at congested ranks. The text lets us in on Khoza’s thinking. Along the back window of the taxi is written: “Being African is an individualistic experience. Your experience is valid.”…read more

Image: Matthew Kay