Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The political narrative weaves into a cultural narrative in Dhaka, Bangladesh where the proclaimed city of rickshaws uses the vehicle as a medium for political and cultural expression. The surface treatment of the rickshaws becomes the subject of much study. Most notably anthropologist Joanna Kirkpatrick’s ‘Transports of Delight’ offers a robust and historical account of the rickshaw art production. According to Kirkpatrick, rickshaw art operates as a barometer of public opinion as well as a canvas for permissible voyeurism in a Muslim society.[xvii] Owing to great interest both foreign and local in rickshaw art, imagery inspired and related to the practice has developed into an industry that feeds a taste for the familiar made exotic. (See figures: 1 a & b) Indeed, imagery both of and on the rickshaw has become symbolic of Bangladeshi popular transport, culture and nationalism.