top of page

Taxi Chronicles

Debra Bhungeni


Parish Priests:

Tuliza Sindi, Muhammad Dawjee


19 - The Act of Service


Taxi Chronicles studies the cultural and performative characteristics of language, toward its production of belonging and exclusion. The project was borne out of the author’s own experience of foreignness in the South African taxi system as a Zimbabwean. Observing the characteristics that render one exposed, such as accent, clothing, hand gestures and more, the project seeks to capture and demystify the culture embedded within the public language infrastructure known as South Africa’s 13th language, Taxi Taal – a language invented, used and negotiated primarily in the public realm along racial, tribal, geographic and class lines.
Through a guide and minimal site intervention (with colour, texture and text) at Randburg taxi rank, the project makes sense of the Tower of Babel-like condition that plagues the public realm for those deemed foreign.

The language is catalogued as both verbal and non-verbal, using James William Carey’s framework on language, namely grammar (that the project translates as spatial grammar) structure, and sound.

To ensure inconspicuous access to the language – so as to not reveal the foreignness of the foreigner – the project introduces a newspaper, The Taxi Times, as a 3-fold tool: as a natural-looking distraction, a coded teaching tool and an ice-breaker.'