How to get home

A visual hide & seek with the hand sign language used in Johannesburg, South Africa, to catch a mini-taxi in the right direction.

Created in collaboration with Siya Fonds. @mrfonds  @block88conceptstore

See “Exhibitions” for more!

Soweto, South Africa, 2017.

How to get home — Plucking Flowers and the Handsign for Extens
Map of Johannesburg with hand sign destinations
How to get home — Yellow Metrorail Train & Handsign for Downtown
How to get home — Opening a pot of pap & sign for Extension 11
Painting Advertisement and Handsign to Glen Ridge
How to get home — Palm leaf and handsign to Extension 8
How to get home — Car Wash and handsign to Kliptown
How to get home — chicken and handsign for Bara Hospital
How to get home — Sweets stand and handsign to Jabulani Mall
How to get home — Abortion poster and handsign for Leratong Ho
How to get home — Kota menue and handsign for staying local

Blending into everyday situations in Soweto, the hand signs do not only tell the story of how to get home in Johannesburg, but also show what this home looks like.

Boy at the hairdresser and handsign for Protea Gardens
How to get home — Atchar and Handsign to Orange Farm
How to get home — Phone box and Handsign to Extension 2
How to get home — Exhaust pipes and handsign for Cosmo City

Over twenty years after Apartheid ended in South Africa, its echo still can be heard throughout the country. The structures established decades ago continue to impact everyday life of people in the townships. Many black people still have to move up to 40 km every day into town to get to work, after their grandparents have been moved out of Johannesburg to the townships of Soweto with force to make the city a white area. While the state’s infrastructure like the metrorail break under the amount of people and crime, private minibus taxis have become one of the booming economy branches in the country.

This series of set up photographs explores the elaborate hand signs used in Johannesburg to stop a taxi going in the right direction, an hommage to what Jane Jacobs calls the “ballet of the sidewalk”.

By blending into everyday situations in Soweto, the handsigns do not only tell the story of how to get home in Johannesburg, but also show what this home looks like.

All directions are referring to travels to/from/in Soweto. The meaning of some signs varies depending on location and destination in Johannesburg.

In collaboration with Siya Fonds — check his work!