Art Basel and BMW are delighted to present Los Angeles-based artist Max Hooper Schneider (presented by High Art, Paris at Art Basel’s Miami Beach show in 2016) as the next BMW Art Journey winner. The international jury selected him unanimously from a shortlist of three artists whose works were exhibited in the Positions sector at last year’s Art Basel show in Miami Beach.

Max Hooper Schneider’s Art Journey entitled ‘Planetary Vitrine: The Reef as Event’ is a maritime exploration of coral reefs around the globe. Most of the sites are situated in the Indo-West Pacific, where the majority of the planet’s corals are found; others are in Russia and East Africa. The journey, as currently envisaged, includes shorter visits to two pilgrimage sites seminal in the development of the coral imaginary in science and art: Cocos Keeling Islands, where Charles Darwin conducted fieldwork for his 1842 treatise, ‘The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs’; and the Bahamas, to which André Breton traveled on an imaginary voyage via readymade photographic representations of Bahamian coral in order to document nature’s surreality.

Max Hooper Schneider’s journey will investigate reef systems from the Bikini Atoll to the reef that was affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, from Lake Baikal in Russia to the coast of Madagascar, and produce a diverse narrative around them. Importantly, each reef system has been compromised by its contact with humans and each one reveals a specific aspect of how this interaction has occurred, as well as how human and non-human agents have acted over time to remediate the damage. Together, the reefs tell a story of death and resilience, corruption and rebirth.

The artist’s journey will include dimensions of research and documentation as well as sculptural events. Building on his longstanding practice of creating glass and acrylic vitrines that both contain and reflect upon complex natural and man-made systems, Max Hooper Schneider plans to bury empty vitrines at sea near one or more of the visited sites. The transformation of the vitrines into new, as he terms them, ‘Trans-Habitats’, cocreated
by artist, reef, and other natural and human participants in the process, will be monitored by the artist periodically. Hooper Schneider’s long-term expectation is to exhume and exhibit these Trans-Habitats well after the formal conclusion of this Art Journey.

The international experts awarding Hooper Schneider’s proposal were Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director New Museum, New York; Gabriele Horn, Director Berlin Biennale, Berlin; Victoria Noorthoorn, Director Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires; Bisi Silva, Director Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos; and Philip Tinari, Director Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing.

The five-member jury, in its joint statement, lauded the exceptional depth and detail of Max Hooper Schneider’s proposal and its comprehensive approach to the BMW Art Journey: ‘The proposal develops important themes in Hooper Schneider’s practice, which already impressed us deeply at Art Basel in Miami Beach. The idea of visiting coral reefs grows out of Hooper Schneider’s interests in the relationship between philosophy and nature, the personal and the political, destruction and construction and what he calls non-human and human agents. We were excited by how the project gives expression to concerns about ecological destruction in today’s world. This ambitious project amounts to a series of artistic tests, coupled with richly sourced historical research, which promises to open new dimensions in the artist’s work and lead to unpredictable results. We are curious to see the filmic material, the photographs, the texts, and subsequently, the Trans-Habitats that will emerge from Max Hooper Schneider’s extraordinary Art Journey.’

In addition to Max Hooper Schneider, the shortlisted artists from the Positions sector for emerging artists at Art Basel in Miami Beach included: Maggie Lee (b. 1987) at Real Fine Arts, New York, and Beto Shwafaty (b. 1977) represented by Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani, Milan, Lucca.

The next round of selections for the BMW Art Journey will take place during Art Basel in Hong Kong, where on March 22 the three shortlisted artists from the Discoveries sector will be announced at the BMW Lounge. The next winner of the BMW Art Journey will be presented in early summer 2017.

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.

For further information about the artist and the project, please visit bmw-art-journey.com.