Who knows his city better than anyone?
Who knows the juiciest gossip about the rich and famous?
Who can mobilize the whole city?
Who else but …a taxi driver!
It seems a ludicrous idea: ask a Chinese taxi driver to get in his cab, pick up some local passengers and drive to the other side of the country. In December 2009, this is exactly what the Go West Project did.
It took some convincing, but finally 6 taxis and 11 drivers from Changsha, Wuhan, Chongqing, Zhengzhou, Shijiazhuang and Hohhot agreed to participate in a Long March to Shenzhen. Together with 11 passengers from their respective cities, they went on a multi-day ride across China. Together they drove more than 10,000 kilometres to reach their destination: Civic Square in Shenzhen.
The taxi from Chongqing left the meter running all the way. Upon arrival, it showed 3898 RMB. The taxi from Hohhot did the same. But when the meter reached 999 RMB, it started again from 0. That happened six times.
The taxis stayed in Shenzhen for 6 days. They functioned as mobile pavilions during the Shenzhen / Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture. The public took free rides and have the surreal experience of spending 10 minutes in another city. Inside the taxis they could see pictures of new skylines and old neighbourhoods from China’s emerging metropolises, and listen to the latest songs from the region.
All along the taxi drivers did what they do best: tell stories. About their cities, about their trips, about their lives.