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Indepth Arts News:

"Langlands and Bell: A Muse Um"
2008-04-09 until 2008-05-10
Alan Cristea Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

MOMA  ICA  SMAK  LACMA  MADRE - MOMA: Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; ICA: Institute of Contemporary Art, London, UK;  SMAK: Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium; LACMA: Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, USA; MADRE: Museo d’Arte Contemporaneo Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. Statistics prove that we spend more time in museums than at football matches and that the income generated by museums is a major source of revenue funding.  As museums have become leisure brands, their public face and the abbreviation used to codify it – however depersonalized - is increasingly important. Langlands and Bell’s fascination with language and the structures and relationships it signifies is the focus of a body of work that looks at museum acronyms and the identity that these ‘new’ abbreviated names bestow.

In their A Muse Um computer animation, acronyms are interspersed with photographs that Langlands & Bell have taken of the museums.  Mathematically ordered, the codes and photos are superimposed until they begin to dissolve into each other in an endless cycle of familiarity and obscurity, constantly  supplanting each other, much as the new acronym language supplants the original. Neon wall sculptures and a new set of prints published by the gallery develop and expand this theme.

Another major acronym work by the pair, Moving World (Night & Day) 2008, has just been commissioned for and installed at the new Heathrow Terminal 5.  It consists of two 6-metre radius semi-circles of neon destination codes LHR  JFK  RIO at either end of the huge outdoor pedestrian plaza.  The monumental letters illuminate randomly and in sequence, their movement and light creating a constantly changing ‘constellation’ of places and associations.

In 2004 Langlands & Bell won the BAFTA Award for Interactive Art Installation, and were short-listed for the Turner Prize, for their trilogy The House of Osama bin Laden, 2003, an innovative multi-media installation made by the artists following a visit to Afghanistan in 2002. This challenging work reflects on the aftermath of 9/11 and the remnants of both Western and al-Qaeda intervention in the landscape of Afghanistan.  Alan Cristea Gallery published a cycle of prints on the same theme entitled www.af  in 2002.

Moving World,
Langlands & Bell, 2008
Public art installation at Heathrow terminal 5,
launched 14 March 2008
Credit: Contemporary Art Society

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