Karachi Decoration and the Future of Truck Art

The Pulitzer Center has a memorable feature filmed in and around truck workshops of Karachi. The coverage focuses on the workshop of Jamal “Lucky” Uddin, while other interviews highlights the importance of truck art to the average Pakistani. The challenges to the future of truck art, which are often overlooked in these brief segments, is noteworthy.

As the largest city in Pakistan and potentially the largest transportation hub, Karachi can make compelling claims as the center of truck art. There probably is not an accurate measurement of the “center” of truck art, but the craftsmen in Rawalpindi dispute the claim made by some of their Karachi peers. Curiously, the video closes with a few frames about the Karakorum Highway, but the connection is not clear. If the Karakorum highway is important to the development of truck art, Peshawar, not distant Karachi, deserves the claim of truck art capital.

The suggestion is that there are two trends that suggest a bleak trend for the future of truck art. The first is the global economic downturn, which leaves truck owners with left money to spend on decoration. The second, and more significant, is the growing use of shipping containers. While there are some colorful flatbed trucks, the absence of side panels significantly limit the decoration spaces. Still, as long as Pakistanis share the attitude of the guard who “loves” truck art (1:45), it is likely that truck art will remain for some time.

Take note of the excellent decoration pieces at 3:48 and 5:01.

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