BMW Art Journey Award

BY Katrina Kufer / Jun 11 2017 / 19:44 PM

Indian artist Astha Butail is the latest recipient of Art Basel and BMW’s travel-based art initiative

BMW Art Journey Award
© Astha Butail

BMW Art Journey grants the opportunity to research, travel and create new works to emerging artists from Art Basel’s Miami Beach and Hong Kong fairs. Astha Butail, whose project In the Absence of Writing garnered recognition at the Hong Kong branch, was selected from a shortlist that included artists Julian Charrière and Lin Ke.

Butail’s winning proposal honed in on oral traditions, a theme that resonates heavily throughout her body of work. “We were struck by its sensitivity and range, and how it expands upon the artist’s prior practice of investigating her own history and identity. The journey brings together ethnography, spirituality, and sociology,” said the jury in a statement. “We were especially taken by Ms Butail’s interest in tracking down endangered oral traditions, which she will document with the tools of an artist and through interactions with scholars and spiritual leaders. In a digital age, when knowledge is fragmented, meaning is evanescent, and face-to-face contacts are fleeting, this project reconnects us to a slower world, where ideas were shared through deep and sustained personal interactions. Last but not least, we are excited that this Art Journey will bring the artist to regions that previous artists in the series have not yet visited.”

The award will see Butail travel through Yazd, Jerusalem, London, Varanasi, Pune, New Delhi and Mumbai to explore Zoroastrian Avesta, Jewish Oral Torah and Indian Veda traditions. She intends to record the various memory techniques employed, as well as hold interviews with scholars and practitioners.

For more information visit