Art Basel and BMW present video artists Henning Fehr and Philipp Rühr (represented by Galerie Max Mayer, Dusseldorf) as the winners of the second BMW Art Journey. The international expert jury selected unanimously Fehr and Rühr from a shortlist of three artists whose works were exhibited in the Positions sector at Art Basel’s show in Miami Beach in December 2015.
Their project “The Art of Memory: Dub Music and the CCTV Tower” is an extended investigation into the ever-growing interconnectedness of contemporary life. The artists capture today’s global linkages through the metaphor of the loop – both as a visual form and as a system of cultural transmission and cross-pollination. Cologne-based Henning Fehr and Philipp Rühr will travel extensively to conduct research, their two focal points of interest are Jamaican dub reggae music and the iconic CCTV tower in Beijing.
Seemingly unrelated, the Beijing architectural landmark designed by Rem Koolhaas and the Jamaican music style both follow a loop structure. Koolhaas has patented the building as a “looped skyscraper”, breaking up the conventional monolithic form into two and reconnecting the masses into an irregular circle. Dub music is an electronic, looped form of reggae. Jamaican musicians use synthesizers produced in the West enabling a nonlinear narrative structure, as opposed to earlier forms of Jamaican reggae music. Henning Fehr and Philipp Rühr will contrast these two themes through film, music and TV productions, seen as alternative forms of memory and memory-creation.
The artists will travel around Europe, the US and Jamaica to interview dub musicians, follow them on tour and document their studio work. In Beijing, the duo is planning to document the architecture of the CCTV tower. Combining different forms of travel – slow travel on a bus and fast intercontinental plane rides – the artists will reflect on the notion of the journey itself.
As they stated in their proposal for the Art Journey: “Just like dub music, travel is non-linear, unplannable, full of wormholes, and in every regard psychedelic.” 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.
The jury of international experts, which voted unanimously to select Fehr and Rühr’s proposal, included Juan Gaítan, Director Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art, Mexico City; Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director New Museum, New York City; Gabriele Horn, Director KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Victoria Noorthoorn, Director Museo de Arte Moderna, Buenos Aires; and Bisi Silva, Director Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos.
In addition to Henning Fehr and Philipp Rühr, the shortlisted artists from the Positions sector for emerging artists at Art Basel in Miami Beach included: Fritzia Irizar (represented by Arredondo Arozarena, Mexico City) and Dan Bayles (represented by François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles).
In a joint statement, the jury said about their selection: “In their previous works, Henning Fehr and Philip Rühr have demonstrated an extraordinary ability to analyze and describe commercial and cultural behaviors in a manner that combines criticism and a genuine, passionate interest in their chosen subjects. Their juxtaposition of music and TV production will allow them to explore connections between contrasting yet related cultural phenomena. The jury was impressed by the team’s ability to connect unexpected areas of research, such as architecture, music, rhetoric, and the study of memory. Particularly interesting was the way in which they described their plans to alternate different modes of travel, working at different speeds and refusing to simply accept the rhythms of tourism and of the globalized leisure economy.”
The BMW Art Journey is a global collaboration between Art Basel and BMW, which has been 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 invited to submit proposals for a journey aimed to further develop their ideas and artistic work. The jury reconvenes to select a winner from the three proposals. The next round of selections for the BMW Art Journey will take place during Art Basel in Hong Kong, where on March 23 the three shortlisted artists from the Discoveries sector will be presented to the public, at the BMW Lounge.
The winner of the third Art Journey will be announced in early summer 2016. BMW is a global partner of Art Basel and has supported Art Basel’s three shows in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong for many years.