Abigail Reynolds, represented by Rokeby in London, is the third BMW Art Journey winner. Her project, titled The Ruins of Time: Lost Libraries of the Silk Road, is a multi-continent series of visits to historic and fabled repositories of books. The project is designed to allow the artist to connect Europe and Asia's complex religious and secular narratives. By visiting sixteen sites of libraries lost to political conflicts, natural catastrophes, and war, Reynolds intends to explore voids and document the impossibility of a library encompassing all knowledge.
"The research I have done towards this journey privileges the known", the artist explained 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 more on a philosophical journey".
With a strong connection to books and libraries, Reynolds frequently finds inspiration from literary essays and figures to imagine places and moments from the past, present and future. Her project reflects her close link to libraries and literature and expands her current interests and working methods. During her journey, Reynolds will collect 3D scans, photography, microscope imagery, written text, plans or cataloging systems, which she will then compile in a book, at the conclusion of the journey.
The jury praised Reynold's project in a joint statement about their unanimous selection stating: "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 have existed since the beginning of civilization. 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".
Reynolds was one of the three shortlisted artists, together with Newsha Tavakolian from the Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, and Alvin Zafra presented by Artinformal, Mandaluyong City. They were exhibiting at this year's Discoveries sector at Art Basel's show in Hong Kong. The jury of international experts comprised of 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 (Kochi); and Pauline J. Yao, Curator Visual Art M+ (Hong Kong).