Minibus taxis are often in the news but rarely for promoting the arts. Turning the tables on this perception is respected local artist Thania Petersen. She has collaborated with taxi owners Ziyaad and Fatima Dyason to turn a public transport vehicle into a moving masterpiece that passengers can appreciate en route. The “pimped-up” ride forms part of the UnInfecting the City public arts festival currently underway in Cape Town. The festival is presented by the University of Cape Town’s Institute for Creative Arts.
“The Taxi Project is a public arts Initiative to make art accessible to people who do not have the privilege to experience much, if any, art in their lives. By turning a taxi into an immersive art experience – from showcasing video work, visual art, recorded poetry readings and even theatre productions played on a screen inside the vehicle – commuters’ lives can be enriched with the arts at any given moment of the day,” explains Petersen.
To achieve this end, the interior of the Dyasons’ taxi has been kitted out with a 22-inch screen and sound system. On which Petersen’s latest film will play. She has covered the entire outside of the vehicle in the art from the film. The taxi will be parked outside the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) in the city’s Silo District at the V&A Waterfront for a brief period before heading out on its regular route towards Hanover Park on the Cape Flats. This mobile art gallery will be in circulation for several months and is a first for the city.
At present, Petersen is artist-in-residence at the Zeitz MOCAA. She has gained considerable attention from the global art world for her multimedia works that span self-portraiture, installations, and performance. She deals with issues of identity in contemporary South Africa. Having grown up in a Muslim household, her focus is on her Cape Malay heritage.
Petersen, who studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London, has exhibited broadly both locally and internationally. Her work has been included in various public and private collections including among others:
- The World Cultures Museum Rotterdam in the Netherlands
- The Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC
- The Oscar Niemeyer Museum Curitiba in Brazil
- The Durban Art Gallery
- The IZIKO South African National Gallery in Cape Town
- The Yeojoo City Collection in South Korea
Local career highlights include solo exhibitions at WHATIFTHEWORLD and the AVA in Cape Town.
Petersen’s contribution to UnInfecting The City, the longest-running public arts festival in the country, is perfectly in line with the event’s ethos of taking arts and culture out of theatres and galleries and taking it to a range of communities.
“Not everyone can afford to take a day off work to gallery hop, or afford to visit a museum or the theatre,” she says. “Times are changing and we are obligated to share everything we are with each other to affect real, meaningful change!”
Petersen’s progressive installation is just one aspect of UnInfecting the City. To find out more about this exciting festival and its various programmes, visit Infectingthecity.com. For the first time, the festival has included a number of digital-only pieces that will be loaded online. This will make the stimulating content available to anyone, anywhere, who has access to the Internet.