Langlands & Bell: Degrees of Truth

Sir John Soane’s Museum 4 March – 31 May 2020

A major solo exhibition by the artists Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell will open at Sir John Soane’s Museum in March 2020.

New works specially commissioned for the exhibition and works borrowed from public and private collections across the UK will be installed throughout the Museums three houses in dialogue with Sir John Soane’s collection of art, architecture and antiquities.

For over four decades, Langlands & Bell’s work has explored the complex web of relationships linking people and architecture and the coded systems of communication and exchange we use to negotiate a fast changing technological world. Their art ranges from film, video and digital media projects to sculpture, installation, and full-scale architecture.

From the found objects gathered in the early 1980s from the rubble and detritus of Whitechapel, to the slick hyper-determined buildings of the tech giants of Silicon Valley, the exhibition explores the disconnects that exist between the ideas and narratives that buildings, objects and images are intended to convey and those they inadvertently reveal or which are acquired over time.

Works featured in the exhibition range from Traces of Living (first made in 1986), Adjoining Rooms (1989), Interlocking Chair (1995), the interactive Turner prize-nominated The House of Osama bin Laden (2003), to recent works exploring the new Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley, and a major new art work conceived for Soane’s iconic Library-Dining Room, exploring the temporal and cultural relations emanating from the idea of the Grand Tour.

Taking place at a moment when some commentators contend we have entered a ‘post-truth’ era, Langlands & Bell: Degrees of Truth reflects on the capacities of architecture to bear witness to the technological, political, economic and cultural relationships that define contemporary society.

Langlands & Bell said: ‘Nearly all of our art, one way or another, is about spaces, structures, networks and the human and social relationships they embody. We find evidence of the relationships between people, from the personal to the political, everywhere. Our interest is in revealing the poetry and beauty of these in our surroundings and distilling them to their essence’.

Exhibition curator, Owen Hopkins, said: ‘Across their career Langlands & Bell have consistently sought to unpick the interrelationship of ideas, forms and histories through which architecture is conceived and experienced. In this they have much in common with John Soane’s own conception of architecture, embodied in his house and collection with which their exhibition will create a powerful synthesis across time and space’.

This exhibition has been made possible thanks to the support of Pomellato S.p.A. and Christian & Florence Levett.

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