Langlands & Bell : Degrees of Truth

Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

Langlands & Bell: Degrees of Truth (4 March – 31 May 2020) is a major solo exhibition exploring contemporary society’s relationship with architecture, opening at Sir John Soane’s Museum on 4 March. 

Reflecting on the capacity of architecture to bear witness to the technological, political, economic and cultural relationships that define contemporary society, specially-made works will be displayed alongside pieces borrowed from collections across the country to create a dialogue with architect Sir John Soane’s collection of art and antiquities. 

Bringing together artworks from over four decades of collaboration by Langlands & Bell, this exhibition is the Museum’s most ambitious partnership with a contemporary artist to date. Highlights include: 

  • Grand Tour (2020), a new installation featuring a series of handmade white lacquered ‘chairs’ containing models of historic buildings we know Soane visited and contemporary buildings he might visit today, highlighting the cultural endurance of this eighteenth-century tradition in today’s globalised world. 
  • The House of Osama bin Laden (2003), a Turner prize-nominated, interactive digital artwork, where visitors may use a joystick to navigate a digital recreation of Osama bin Laden’s former home at Daruntah in Afghanistan. 
  • Globe Table (2020), a new sculpture incorporating an “abstract globe” of the air routes of the world, highlighting the significance of travel, geo-strategic relations, and cultural communication today. 
  • Traces of Living (first made in 1986), an installation in which disdained and ignored relics of everyday life gathered from the rubble and detritus of Whitechapel in the early 1980s – including a rat in a loaf of bread – are presented for museological scrutiny and consideration. 
  • Conversation Seat (1986) and Interlocking Chairs (1995), two signature artworks, sometimes viewed as portraits of the artists’ collaboration, where ideas of coexistence and the possibilities of communication and exchange between two individuals are explored. 

‘Truth crystalises with the construction, display and interaction of buildings and artworks. In the new worlds we’re creating digitally today, truth is contested, but art and architecture have always enacted and reflected reality. At a time when we’re all re-assessing what truth is, we are excited to present artworks selected from four decades of our collaboration in dialogue with Sir John Soane’s historic collection.’

Press Release: Langlands & Bell : Degrees of Truth at Sir John Soane’s Museum

Langlands & Bell in Conversation with Tony Chambers

Image: Starfish (detail) Langlands & Bell, 2020