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Not Specifically Political: A Conversation with Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell
by Ana Finel Honigman

As the sculpture of Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell leads us to understand, we do not merely occupy the spaces in which we live and work, we actively interrelate with them. Architecture influences us while we inhabit it, and the artistic team known as Langlands & Bell critically engages this reciprocal relationship by creating striking and often intriguingly non-functional objects. It is tempting to assess their work through the prism of “meta” or “post” terminology, but Langlands & Bell’s playfulness injects pure pleasure into conceptually solid sculpture.
London-born Langlands & Bell have collaborated since 1978, after studying together at Middlesex Polytechnic. Their sculptural works range from architectural ground-plans as monochrome reliefs or full-scale models to new media projects, to the monumental steel and glass bridge recently completed at Paddington Basin in London. In October 2002, following a two-week visit to Afghanistan on a research commission for the Imperial War Museum in London, they developed an interactive digital model of the house in Daruntah, west of Jalalabad, where Osama bin Laden briefly lived in the late 1990s. When viewers virtually explore The House of Osama bin Laden (2003), their awareness of its nightmarish inhabitant clashes with the house’s inherent tidiness and calm.

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Marseille—Cité Radieuse, 2001. Wood, lacquer, aluminum, and glass, 102 x 200 x 10 cm.



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