Bike enthusiasts and photographers Stan Engelbrecht & Nic Grobler spent two years traveling in and around South Africa — capturing portraits of people and their beloved bikes along the way. The culmination of their project is a book, Bicycle Portraits, divided into three parts that encompass the portraits, stories and essays about the South African people they encountered during their journey. As stated on the home page of the Bicycle Portraits website, “Bicycle Portraits has turned into a portrait of a nation through the bicycles that they own and ride every day —revealing all manner of social, class, historical and cultural nuances never imagined.”
While the project began as a simple study of bicycle commuter culture in South Africa, it has developed into what the photographers of Bicycle Portraits hope will become a means of promoting cycling for transport in South Africa.
“As you might know, South Africa is a world within one country, home to various cultures, with a tragic history of segregation and racism. Through this project we hope to give people a glimpse into each other lives through a well known object of movement, practicality and joy — the bicycle. Looking at individuals through their, sometimes unconscious, involvement in bicycle culture, we will inadvertently touch on many charged issues like the implementation of public space, lack of infrastructure development and also social problems like class division and unequal wealth distribution, but also perhaps bring those unfamiliar to each other together in their love for a simple thing…”
Ultimately, writes Engelbrecht on the site, “We hope that this will lead to the kind of infrastructure development that is designed with all people in mind, not just cars.”
PHOTO via Bicycle Portraits
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