Meet Mad Max Driver, Machette, Vibze, Ghost Rider, Red Devil, Lion and The Rasta Driver! These motor drivers proudly cruise through Nairobi wearing dazzling outfits on their matching bikes. The outfits are designed by Ugandan-Kenyan fashion designer Bobbin Case in the context of the collaborative project, “Boda Boda Madness” by Bobbin and Dutch artist Jan Hoek.
Both Bobbin and Jan were fascinated by the many motor taxis, known as Boda Boda, driving around Nairobi. There are so many of them that some drivers build the most fantastically-themed motorcycles in order to stand out from the other taxis and attract the attention of customers. Jan and Bobbin thought the bikers forgot one thing when they customized their rides: their own looks. They selected seven Boda Boda drivers with the most awesome bikes and sat down with each of them to create brand new outfits to complete the characters. Jan photographed the Boda Boda drivers with their new looks in the style of real life action figures in front of typical Nairobi landscapes. When you visit Nairobi you might see them riding around in real life!
Jan Hoek (b. 1984) is an artist and writer. He has photographed homeless Ethiopian men as kings and emperors, a heroin addict who dreams of being a model, Maasai living in the city in the way they wanted to be photographed themselves, and people he simply found through advertisements on the internet. Jan Hoek’s quest for interesting models brought him to portray Boda Boda drivers as reckless real life action figures on motorbikes in front of Nairobi landscapes.
Bobbin Case is a 26-year-old avant-garde fashion designer born in Uganda, but based in Kenya. He dreams of creating costumes for movies and music videos. Some of his collections have appeared in Elle Magazine and on the BBC.
The work is accompanied by customized scarfs and a soundscape of Dutch musician, Torus. Torus is the ever-evolving alter-ego of The Hague-born artist and producer, Joeri Woudstra.
ABOUT Jan Hoek
Jan Hoek (1984) is a writer as well. In addition to his own indepedant work as an artist, he writes for magazines and newspapers about his own work, the work of others, photography in general and subjects related to his own work.
Jan Hoek has photographed amateur models, mentally ill homeless people in Africa, a girl with no arms and legs, a heroin addict who dreams of being a model, or people he has simply found in advertisements on the internet. The photo shoot is never what he expected, model and photographer always have different expectations. The model actually wants sex while Jan Hoek wants to shoot the dog. The model tries to be as glamorous as possible, while Jan wants to picture the decay. Photographing is not just about the image but also the relationship between the photographer and the model. How far can you go with your models? In the accompanying film, Me & My Models, Jan talks about the nasty, funny, painful or touching things that happen around photographing people.
“I believe there is always a certain degree of ethics involved in photography. It is almost impossible to take photographs of people without consciously, or unconsciously, crossing boundaries and with things happening that you don’t want or expect. I feel this is often covered up in photography, while I would like to show it … ”