Artist Thania Peterson’s work. Picture: Supplied.
Artist Thania Peterson’s work. Picture: Supplied.

Local artists turns taxis into her own canvases in public art initiative

By Shanice Naidoo Time of article published May 15, 2021

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Cape Town - In the literal sense of bringing art to the streets of Cape Town one artist has turned taxis into her canvas. It’s where art meets the public transport industry.

The Taxi Project is a Public Arts Initiative to make art accessible to the people in the townships in and around Cape Town.

“All my work is inspired by the Cape and especially the community which I come from. Everything I make and do is for the people of the Cape and more so, the people of the Cape Flat,” said artist Thania Peterson.

Thania Peterson’s work of art. Picture Supplied.

This is part of (Un)Infecting the City which has taken the streets from May 8. It will be on the streets, buildings, and billboards of Cape Town, a free-to-the-public festival. It is one of the longest-running public arts festivals in South Africa, Infecting the City, renamed (Un)Infecting the City for this year, offers an opportunity to bring art, music, dance, and performance out of theatres and galleries, and into public spaces

Director of the Institute for Creative Arts Jay Pather said: “Thania Petersen is the kind of artist who does it all. She conceptualises and implements. This work is a way of raising conversation amongst people. The long routes we hope will provide time and space to laugh, think and be stimulated by one if our country’s finest artists. This is an ideal Institute for Creative Arts/ Un Infecting the City project as it brings quality provocative exciting art to all people.”

Petersen’s taxi art will be showcased on May 22, this will happen at various locations on the cape flats.

She would have equipped the taxi with a 22-inch screen and sound system as well as covered the taxi in imagery from the film and other work of hers.

“The commuter will be immersed in art. For me, our public transport system reveals so much of the inequality we face daily. It exposes how our social systems fail us with reliable infrastructure, we can’t depend on decent public education, hospitalisation, trains or buses. I think I could safely estimate that 99 percent of our public transport commuters in this city is of colour from the areas apartheid had dumped them into. They can not afford to take a day off to visit galleries or the theatre or pay to get into a private museum. So what I am hoping is to take it to them and to enrich their lives with art at any given time of the day,” said Petersen.

Using a taxi as a canvas. Picture: Supplied

“In my latest film, the music in the last part of the film is inspired by the sounds I hear in the taxi. It makes sense that it should be played and heard in this space. My dream right now is through equipping the taxis with screens, sound systems we can utilise both the inside of the taxi and outside. We can have mini film festivals on the screens, poetry readings, even dance and theatre in the taxi; it will be amazing,” said Petersen.

Taxi owner Fatimah Dyason who offered her taxi to this project said she was happy to get involved.

“For us, it was the first time where a taxi met art. This is going to turn heads, it grabs a person's attention. It is bringing art to those who would not ordinarily be able to see it. This project could be a hit. I think more artists should get involved to share their art,” said Dyason.

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