BMW Art Journey winner Abigail Reynolds (represented by ROKEBY, London) has begun the first leg of her journey along the Silk Road, which sees her travel by motorbike to visit the sites of ‘lost libraries’ she has come across in her research. Reynolds is the third BMW Art Journey winner and will be the second artist to unveil her work at Art Basel’s Hong Kong show, following work by previous winner Samson Young which debuted at this year’s edition.
Reynolds is currently completing the first stage of her tour, and has so far travelled from the UK to China, where she has visited Xi’an before heading to Yinchuan, where her work has been included as part of the Biennale. From Yinchuan she will travel through Dunhuang before heading to Kokand in Uzbekistan and Istanbul in Turkey.
The first stop on Reynolds’ journey saw her visit the Xianyang Palace library, founded in 350 BCE and destroyed in 206 CBE. Xianyang was made the capital of the state of Qin in 350 BCE where the Ch’in dynasty (221 BCE – 207 BCE) left a lasting impact. While the site is mentioned in many ancient scholarly texts and the site was excavated in 1956, all that remains today is a barren plot of wasteland, the sight of which was a resonant and moving experience for the artist.
Reynolds’ second stop took her to the Baisikou Pagodas. These Pagodas, home to a library containing the first ever book printed with moveable type, were built by Xixia in 1075, partially destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1227, and were completely destroyed during the cultural revolution, with replicas constructed in the 1990s. The artist explored the site and Xi’an’s local libraries to find documentation on the original pagodas, piecing together the circumstances of their gradual and complete destruction.
Throughout the journey, Reynolds will be recording her travels using 16mm film and a Bolex camera. The camera itself is heavy and cumbersome, while the film is delicate and can be easily affected by its conditions. Reynolds is at present unsure whether the film from China will survive owing to the strong X-ray scanners in many international airports as well as the extreme weather found in the desert conditions of Central Asia. Images and scenes captured will only be revealed upon developing the film in the UK. However, Reynolds believes that should the film be fogged or damaged, then this decay will mirror the conditions of the sites she is visiting. The idea of having to salvage what she can find from the film directly correlates to the various degrees of preservation and redevelopment she will encounter on her journey.
Having studied English Literature at Oxford University, Abigail Reynolds frequently draws inspiration from literary essays and figures to imagine places and moments from the past, present and future. Her project for BMW Art Journey 2016/17, ‘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 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 second half of Reynolds’ journey will be completed by the end of January 2017. This second leg will see Reynolds travel to sites in Italy, Egypt, Turkey and Iran before once again returning to the UK.
Abigail Reynolds’ project, ‘The Ruins of Time: Lost Libraries of the Silk Road’ will be presented by Art Basel and BMW at Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 and will comprise a body of work completed by Reynolds in response to her findings along the Silk Road.
The BMW Art Journey is a global collaboration between Art Basel and BMW, created to recognize and support emerging artists worldwide. This unique award is open to artists who are exhibiting in the Discoveries and Positions sectors in the Hong Kong and Miami Beach shows of Art Basel, respectively. Two judging panels comprised of internationally renowned experts meet first to select a shortlist of three artists from the sector, who are then invited to submit proposals for a journey aimed to further develop their ideas and artistic work. The jury reconvenes to choose a winner from the three proposals. The next round of selections for the BMW Art Journey will take place during Art Basel in Miami Beach.
BMW is a global partner of Art Basel and has supported Art Basel’s three shows in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong for over a decade.
Art Basel and BMW will collaborate with the artists to document the journey and share it with a broader public through print publications, online and social media.
For further information about the artists and the project, please visit: www.bmw-art-