For those interested in recent pictures of trucks and other vehicles in Paksitan, the website of New Zealand photographer and filmmaker Peter Grant is worth visiting, though recent posts appear to have veered away from truck art. His visit was part of a larger effort he has undertaken, called Painting Pakistan Proud, that will display some truck art-related objects in two galleries on the island and feature a real “truck artist”, Similar to the US-based Pakistan Cargo Truck Initiative, Grant’s project will also decorate an old campervan.
During his time in Pakistan, Grant met with Durriya Kazi, a Karachi-based, English-speaking artist who participated in “the first credible attempt to treat automotive decoration” as an art form. Unfortunately, Grant shares little on what he learned from her. Hopefully, this will appear in his film as well as more about what he was told in the conversations with truck drivers and artists he mentions.
Grant’s pictures, taken mostly in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, do a great job of capturing the beauty of Pakistani trucks and buses but his prose does not receive the same attention.
In particular, I was struck by his comment that “The trucks are male, the buses female…. (Hoping that its alright to recreate the screenshot here, I’m not sure how sensitive Grant is to copyright issues.) Of course, feminity is somewhat subjective, but this differs significantly from my understanding of trucks in Pakistan and how Jamal Elias describes them in On Wings of Diesel: “While trucks frequently carry masculine symbols, such as weaponry or other forms”. They are invariably viewed as feminine. The word ‘truck’ is masculine in Punjabi, Pashto, and Urdu, but formal gender notwithstanding, trucks are notionally assigned feminine gender, even if they carry masculine-sounding names”. (126) Indeed, trucks are cared for, bejeweled and adorned the way that brides are.