From Lagos to Marakkech, motorcycle riders meander the labyrinthine streets of urban and rural centers, speeding residents to places of commerce, work, worship, and rest. They exist as substitutes for the absence of reliable transportation infrastructures, yet for all their shortcomings, they imbue their cities with character. They forge love-hate relationships with communities they serve and often emerge as unsung heroes in the daily grind where time and deftness reign supreme.
"The Last Mile" exhibition is a proposition that seeks to unravel this vibrant yet hidden connection, illuminating the lives of these riders against the backdrop of bustling cityscapes. The exhibition seeks to render visible the vital yet often obscured ties that bind motorcycle riders to the communities they serve.
The proposed project brings together the works of gifted photographers and lens-based artists, each offering a distinct vantage point into the motorcycle rider phenomenon across African cities and rural areas. Their photographs serve as portals, granting access not only to the vibrant, teeming life in these urban and rural landscapes where these riders navigate the last mile with resolute determination, but also to their trials and travails.
Beyond the political and economic travails of motorcycle riders explored by Lagos-based photographer Victor Adewale, the assembly of photographers in this proposed project also shows in their images the symbiosis between riders and their cities, how they aesthetically influence each other to lend to the texture of a place as can be observed in Jan Hoek’s Nairobi photography project, Boda Boda Madness. Through the lens of these artists, viewers will encounter riders as individuals with unique stories, portraying their resilience, tenacity, and indispensable role in shaping the urban and rural tapestry.
"The Last Mile" aims to be more than a visual narrative. It aspires to be an immersive experience. Transcending sight, the exhibition will plunge visitors deep into the sensory and emotional world of these urban and rural environments. Soundscapes will interweave the visuals, recreating the sonic atmosphere of these bustling streets or quiet locales, enhancing the exhibition's immersive nature.
Moreover, "The Last Mile" is not only an exhibition, but a conversation, a platform for dialogue. Visitors will be able to engage in discussions, workshops, and panel conversations. These educational components will serve to deepen the understanding of the economic, social, and cultural dimensions of the motorcycle rider phenomenon in African cities and also serve as a place for shared memories and nostalgic recollections for Africans in the diaspora.
"The Last Mile" invites viewers to perceive the motorcycle rider not just as a figure on the periphery of the city but as a dynamic and indispensable element of urban life. It is an acknowledgment of the human spirit's indomitable resilience, of the connections that bond communities, and of the rhythms that sustain life in African cities and rural communities.