Lost Libraries  2018

installed film
installed film
Lost Libraries
Lost Libraries
Lost Libraries

In 2016 I became the third winner of the BMW Art Journey award, for a project titled ‘Lost Libraries of the Silk Road.’ I made a five-month journey to fifteen sites of libraries along the Silk Road, that have been lost to political conflict, natural catastrophe, revolution, and war. The film 'Lost Libraries' is a meditation on this journey. 

I often draw inspiration from literature to imagine places and moments from the past, present and future. My project for the BMW Art Journey Award was conceived from this deep connection to libraries and literature. It was designed to allow me to connect the complex religious and secular narratives of Europe and Asia through visits to historic or fabled repositories of books.

My journey was based on extensive research and took me to libraries lost from 291 BCE to 2011 along the whole length of the Silk Road – in China, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Egypt, Italy and Iran. Along the way, I gathered material on 16mm film, and by written text. A book documenting my travels is published with Hatje Cantz - completing a journey that both starts and ends with the institution of the library.

A selection of interviews and other documents related to ‘Lost Libraries’ can be found in the publications listed below.


Elephant Magazine: 5 Questions with Abigail Reynolds by Robert Shore, June 2017, Download the PDF

CLIP Update: Abigail Reynolds in conversation with Rob Mackinlay in ‘Accessing the Lost Libraries of the Silk Road,’ May 4, 2017 (pp. 30 - 32) Download the PDF

Post Magazine, Abigail Reynolds in conversation with Sarah Lazarus in ‘Lost Libraries of the Silk Road,’ May 14, 2017 (pp. 16 – 19) Download the PDF

Art Basel Year 47, Abigail Reynolds in conversation with András Szántó in ‘Lost Libraries of the Silk Road,’ December 2016 (pp. 386 – 388) Download the PDF

Ocula: Abigail Reynolds in conversation with Sam Gaskin in ‘A Conversation with Abigail Reynolds,’ October 21, 2016 Download the PDF


Reports and Features

Financial Times: ‘Abigail Reynolds’ Silk Road Quest’ by Gareth Harris, March 17, 2017 Download the PDF

Prestige Hong Kong, Art Basel in Hong Kong, A Special Supplement 2017: ‘Paper Trail’ by Christopher Dewolf, March 2017 (pp.18- 21) Download the PDF

Artsy Editorial: 'Abigail Reynolds Travelled the World to Libraries that No Longer Exist' by Abigail Cain, March 20th 2017  Download the PDF

Madame Kunst: ‘Die Reise Ins Nichts’ by Cordula Funke, March 2017 (pp. 2 – 6) Download the PDF

Quality Magazin: ‘Auf der Suche nach dem verlorenen Buch’ by Alexandria Fels, November 2016 (pp. 113 – 123) Download the PDF

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‘Lost Libraries’ is a split screen meditation on a solitary journey to libraries along the Silk Road that have been lost to political conflict, natural catastrophe, revolution, and war. The artist’s journal entries, narrated by three voices, weave together her 16mm footage of the former library sites, home movies, and archive news reports to consider what it means to be lost, and the many ways of looking.

Two screen looped moving image work, 18 mins. A clip is available below

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