The SA Taxi Foundation Art Award is a revolutionary award, marrying the world of art, design and taxis that is now in its second year. The award is unique in the South African visual arts community in that it requires artists to create a piece of visual art and then interpret it for use as a decal on minibus taxis.
In April 2016, The SA Taxi Foundation Art Award announced the overall winner, five finalists, and the merit award winner of 2016, amidst a globally developing trend towards displaying and using art in mobile environments.
Audrey Anderson, illustrator, curator, and independent artist, took the first prize of R50 000 with her ink on paper work entitled Commute Quest. As finalists, Steven Bosch, Nkosinathi Khumalo, Wandile Mashaba, Lekau Matsena, and Wesley van Eeden each won R10 000. Mashudu Nevhutalu’s work was recognised with a merit award for his outstanding artwork.
Centered on this years theme of ‘routes’, all the works demonstrated a positive, yet critical, view of South African society. In addition to innovating at the level of the visual arts, the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award has called for a new approach to the production of decals for minibus taxis. Normally, decals as advertising cover a single panel or the back door of the vehicle.
The award decals, however, cover much larger areas of the vehicle and artists are involved in brainstorming with the SA Taxi Media division to optimise the way the decal wraps around a vehicle. The six winning decal designs are then displayed on 10 minibus taxis on route in different areas of the country for a period of six months.
“The popularity of the taxis carrying the decals indicates that the Award is achieving its objectives of enabling art to reach a mass audience and of illustrating the transformative role the taxi industry plays in society.” – Kalnisha Singh, SA Taxi Foundation director
Anderson’s winning work, Commute Quest is the result of a route of a lived South African expedition in a banal daily commute. The concept of the work came from the artists love of being a passenger instead of a driver. Although public transport in its many forms can be tedious, difficult and at times, scary, there are some positive elements such as a window to gaze through, affording the opportunity to be a spectator. There is a commuting community who share a daily travelled experience that can lead to a once in a lifetime conversation, a network connection or a life changing realisation.
As an artist my daily commute is not regular and I miss out on the subtleties one would experience from the pattern of daily commuting. For this reason I choose to be a spectator to someone else’s daily taxi commute. I asked a man, Japheth Matimbe. I saw him every day to record his daily commute on an instant film camera. This interpretation of another’s point of view through visual cues, became an alternative traveling route for my eyes. The work is meant to be a simulation of taking a trip where someone else is in control of my visual route. Unlike a tourist with a tour guide, I only have my own traveling experience to extract meaning from. Even the process of making the work was a decidedly anonymous trip.
This award takes art to the people in an innovative way, exposing the man and woman in the street to contemporary art. In doing so, it exposes society as a whole to creative views of its issues and triumphs. Look out for the six winning taxis on the roads soon!