Taxi Diaries

 
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Nonzuzo Gxekwa

 
 

Taxi Diaries is an ongoing photographic exploration of life in Johannesburg—I commute around the city in a taxi and can meet different people, it is a visual diary, made in collaboration with Johannesburg and its people. It is a reflection of a city and how its citizens interact with it. Johannesburg, for better or worse, is a metropolitan in every sense; it is also an anthropological space where outsiders become insiders who find and make a home here, and taxi diaries weave the narratives of these people, their different stories, and backgrounds to create an archive of a city finding itself. Most of the people in the images are photographed in the streets, creating random moments that reflect how the city in and of itself ebbs and flows between a multicultural metropolis and the people who use it as a stage to question ideas about identity, gender, and the aspirations of Africans in the here and now. This work is collaborative because I ask the people in my photographs to be themselves, thus, creating an intimate conversation between myself as the photographer and the strangers who become friends and acquaintances through the process of image-making

Taxi Diaries is the art of bearing witness in the most quintessentially South African way. While commuting in a taxi, I can see the beauty of life in all its vivid colors, the transition from one day to the next often holds very profound moments that define the landscape of any society. In South Africa, taxis are the mode of transportation for the poorest masses, they are often under-serviced, and were once referred to by former President Thabo Mbeki as “Mobile Coffins”—yet they are equally important to most working-class black people and they exist as spaces of transition from one reality to the next.

 

Nonzuzo Gxekwa captures life’s little moments through photography, feeling most alive when creating and sharing things of beauty; she resonates most with Irving Penn’s views on photography: “It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you.” As a self-taught photographer she is constantly growing and learning. She draws inspiration from observing the simple in everyday life and nature.

Gxekwa’s photographs wrestle past and present as she captures the bricolage of city life. Her work contemplates the intricacies of a society reckoning with the past as it seeks to redefine its identity.

As Flurina Rothenberger writes: “Nonzuzo’s work is characterized by an awareness of the deeply human that is woven into the structure of everyday urban life.”

 
 
 

Spring / Summer 2024



Nonzuzo Gxekwa

Nonzuzo Gxekwa (b. 1981) is a Johannesburg-based black woman photographer. Her approach to photography favors the everyday over the spectacular; sharing intimate moments by focusing the camera on what is around her as well as on herself. Whether photographing in the street or in the studio, her work explores the human condition in subtle and beautiful ways. Collaboration is a crucial part of her practice, and she regularly works with photographers and other creatives in Johannesburg and further afield. Nonzuzo’s work was included in Presence: Five Contemporary African Photographers at the Photographer’s Gallery in London.



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