Commute Quest; SA Taxi Foundation Art Award Winner 2016
Commute Quest
SA Taxi Foundation Art Award Winner 2016
Synopsis by Audrey Anderson
Context: taxi from Berea to Newtown, Johannesburg and back, driven by Japhet Matimbe

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 my love of being a passenger instead of a driver. Although pubic transport in its many forms can be tedious, difficult and at times, scary, there are some positive elements. A window to gaze through, affording the opportunity to be a spectator. There is a type of commuting community, a daily travelled experience that can become a once in a lifetime conversation or network connection or a life changing realization. As an Artist my daily commute is not regular and I miss out on the subtleties one would experience from the travel pattern of long term daily commuting. For this reason I choose to be a spectator to someone else’s daily taxi commute. I asked a man*. I see everyday to record his daily commute on an instant film camera. This interpretation of another’s point of view through visual queue’s, become an alternative traveling route for my eyes.

Looking through the images I got a sense of a being on a quest. The series of images seemed like he was taking notes of daily travel elements. I saw, places and times that where dark and quiet, as well as heavy traffic, noisy hustle and bustle. The photographs became my taxi windows and a road to travel on for my eyes. The work started as drawings on bits and piece paper like I would if I where taking notes on a journey. Choosing different types of mark making to capture a mood of a moment. As the collection of notes got greater, a new narrative started to form. The work took shape as a process of reading images taken from a daily commuting quest. The paper sketch narrative ends with him exiting the taxi leaving the quest behind him.

* The work is meant to be a simulation of taking a trip where some one 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 though the process of the work was decidedly treated like an anonymous trip. I thought it relevant to give you a short profile of my eye driver:

Japheth Matimbe works as a coffee roaster in Newtown and lives in Berea, next to Hillbrow. He travels every day by taxi to work and walks from park station to work. He has been in South Africa for a few years. He first worked as a small carpentry business owner in Durban later when business started losing profit he found work as a barrister. He grew up on a coffee farm in Zimbabwe and left when ZANO PF took the farm over to plant maze.

Title - Commute Quest
The work is done on acid free papers with archival inks and is framed by an archival framer.
Mounted and framed - 1500x80cm
About the art award:
is South African's only mobile visual art and design award that takes art to the public in a unique African way. The art award innovatively marries the world of art, design and taxis. The award is unique in the South African visual arts community because it requires artists to create a piece of visual art and then interpret it for use as a decal on a mini bus taxi. Mini bus Taxis are a major public transport network in south africa. The majority of the south african public use them to get to work everyday. This awards aim is to take emerging south african art out into the public realm in South Africa on a daily basis.

"If 27 million South Africans travel by taxi then the ripple effect of this project is enormous. 
As a nation we experience a rollercoaster of emotions on a daily basis, usually extreme reactions to our volatile sociopolitical dynamics. At times it feels that there is much that separates us, but at the same time we can also be moved and united by something visually arresting that moves through our shared spaces."  Dion Chang.

The End

Thank you