In April, the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award, now in its third year, announced the Award winner and top five category finalists at the launch of the Award exhibition at Lizamore & Associates Gallery, Rosebank, Johannesburg.
Now in its 3rd years, this innovative award mergers visual art, design and taxis. The award asks of entrant to create a visual artwork in conversation to a brief and then design an accompanying decal for a minibus taxi. Each of these artists wins a cash prize along with the opportunity to have their works showcased taxi’s around the country, each to be carried by 10 taxis on national routes for a period of 6 months.
“This is such a fundamental part of people’s lives, helps to promote local art value chains.” Says the SA Taxi Foundation Director, Lishani Letchmiah. “And, because most minibus taxi commuters are posting pictures and comments about the vibrant works of art on the selected minibus taxis, the impact of the art reaches steadily deeper into society”
This years brief asked artists to consider difference. With a strong focus on African art and its place in the global conversation around contemporary art, what is our understanding of contemporary African art? How does our participation as the Southern most tip of Africa inform our place on the continent. What is our lived experience of being part of this larger puzzle of a global art community, an African art conversation and then as artists working within very specific communities. What does difference look like? Consider the very current issues around the growth of the South African economy, a world and country grappling with matters of citizenry, social cohesion and participatory community. The taxi industry is complex and experienced by all South Africans daily from different sides. This fascinating and challenging business is the backbone of our economy, moving millions of commuters around the cities they inhabit every day. This interlinking of industry, state and public works to form a puzzle-like organism, driving the nation forward.
This year, catergories were introduced as a way to reframe the traditional boundaries that so often permeate the Visual Art Sector. The five (5) finalists were be chosen along the following categories:
- Two dimensional artworks (This includes drawing, painting, collage, photography any work whose final presentation is in a 2d format.)
- Three dimensional works (This includes work whose final presentation is in 3D format such as sculpture and installation. This could include a virtual 3D manifestation i.e. sculpture, virtual reality, animation.)
- Multiples (This includes works whose production is editioned- traditional printmaking, photography, editioned sculpture etc.)
- Mixed Media (This includes works of any manifestation that include mixed media in its final presentation such as collage, found object works and works made up of several media and materials.)
- Digital/Multimedia (This includes works whose final manifestation is digital in nature. This could include digital in process or digital in the final presentation.)
Artists were selected through a two-phase blind judging process, from more than 160 entries. The first phase, a digital selection to identifiy the top 50 entries that were brought to Johannesburg for the final judging, was headed by Director of VANSA, Molemo Moiloa. Thereafter judges Maria McCloy, Rolihlahla Mhlanga and Gordon Froud selected the top thirty works as well as the 5 category finalists and Award winner. The judges focused on the combination of their artwork, decal design and conceptual narrative.
Says Froud about the finalists: “The thematic considerations showed the diversity of our country, with close to home topics like water shortages and other social and even political statements on the one hand and then to the fun, funky, youthful exuberance that spills out of the urban taxi environment”