Art Basel and BMW are pleased to present British artist Abigail Reynolds (represented by Rokeby, London) as the next BMW Art Journey winner. The international jury selected her unanimously from a shortlist of three artists whose works were exhibited in the Discoveries sector at this year’s Art Basel show in Hong Kong.
Abigail Reynolds’ artistic practice is closely linked to books and libraries. Having studied English Literature at Oxford University, she frequently draws inspiration from literary essays and figures to imagine places and moments from the past, present and future. Given this deep connection to libraries and literature, it is no surprise that Reynolds’ BMW Art Journey project for 2016/ 2017, ‘ The Ruins of Time: Lost Libraries of the Silk Road ’, will allow her to connect the complex religious and secular narratives of Europe and Asia and to expand her current interests and working methods through an extensive multi-continent series of visits to historic and fabled repositories of books. The artist will trace sixteen sites of libraries lost to political conflicts, looters, natural catastrophes and war.
Conceptually, Abigail Reynolds intends to explore blanks and voids, with the library symbolising the impossibility of encompassing all knowledge.
‘ The research I have done towards this journey privileges the known ’, the artist stated in her proposal for the Art Journey, ‘ but it will bring me to question what we understand as knowledge. I do not want to embark on a history lesson, but on a philosophical journey ’.
Along the way, Reynolds will gather representations in various forms: 3D scans, photography, microscope imagery, written text, plans or cataloguing systems. Based on this extensive research, she intends to create a cluster of book forms, prints, collages and moving – image works, the latter being her first attempt to work in this medium. Images, texts and other documents originating from the experience will, after its conclusion, be included in a book – thus completing a journey that both starts and ends with the institution of the library.
The experts conducting the judging were Richard Armstrong, Director Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Claire Hsu , Director Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; Matthias Mühling, Director Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich; Bose Krishnamachari, President Kochi – Muziris Biennale, India; and Pauline J. Yao , Curator Visual Art M+, Hong Kong.
In a joint statement, the five – member international jury said about their unanimous selection: ‘Abigail Reynolds submitted a monumental, poetic and memorable proposal. Her articulate project links the contemporary to ancient history by researching the phenomenon of destroyed libraries, which has existed for thousands of years . Her journey will take her along segments of the Silk Road, which has not lost any of its political and cultural resonance. It will be fascinating to see where this ambitious journey – which is so thoroughly rooted in her practice of translating literary materials into visual language – will take her, both physically and creatively ’.
In addition to Abigail Reynolds, the shortlisted artists from the Discoveries sector for emerging artists at Art Basel in Hong Kong included: Newsha Tavakolian with Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, and Alvin Zafra presented by Artinformal, Mandaluyong City.
The BMW Art Journey is a global collaboration between Art Basel and BMW, created to recognize and support emerging artists worldwide.