Jan Hoek

Boda Boda Madness


This essay by Dutch artist and writer Jan Hoek is devoted to the drivers of motorcycle-taxis in Nairobi known as boda-bodas. Their curious vehicles are the only way to cross the border between Kenya and Tanzania, so the original name for this transport was border-border, but with the passage of time this evolved into the colloquial boda-boda. In this photographic series, made in collaboration with the Ugandan-Kenyan stylist Bobbin Case, the boda-boda drivers wear dazzling garments on their peculiar motorbikes. The suits were designed by Case especially for this project and are inspired by the striking decoration of their vehicles. Hoek and Case realized that their outfits did not stand out as much as the elaborate designs that adorn their motorcycles, so together they selected seven drivers, owners of the most spectacular motorcycles, and created an equally impressive outfit for them. Afterwards, Hoek photographed them with their new look against the background of the suburbs of Nairobi. Boda Boda Madness brings together a series of challenging, surreal portraits of anonymous people who emerge from the suburbs like movie stars.

Born in 1984, he is an Amsterdam based artist photographer and a writer. In his work he is always attracted to the beauty of outsiders worldwide and always keen to collaborate intensively with people that normally are overlooked and create together a new image. He photographed movie star like Nairobi based motor taxi riders, a Amsterdam based ex heroine addict who always dreamed of being a super model, created psychedelic zines about the sex tourism capital of the world Pattaya, and photographed people he found through an advertisement on Marktplaats, the Dutch online marketplace. In the universe of Hoek the ‘normal’ people are the strangers and the outsiders are the funky rulers of this planet. His work has been published in Foam Magazine, Vice, Mister Motley, GUP, NRC Handelsblad and Het Parool. Jan also exhibited in Antwerp, Istanbul, St. Petersburg, Jakarta, Shenzhen, Lagos, Miami, London and New York. Jan Hoek is represented by Gallery Ron Mandos in Amsterdam.