At first glance, this diptych seems to be entirely abstract, but on closer inspection it becomes clear that the images represent a map similar to those printed in in-flight magazines showing domestic and international flight routes. The destinations of the routes add up to form a vague outline of the British Isles. Night and day are represented by the artists' use of white on black and black on white.
Langlands and Bell are concerned with the systems by which our lives are controlled. An earlier work entitled Air Routes in NW Europe (Night & Day) was described in the catalogue to their 1997 Serpentine Gallery exhibition as "an image and effigy of some obscure force, abstract and elusive: an image not only of speed, but of the whole system of control over human travel."
Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell met as students at Middlesex Polytechnic in 1977 and have been working in collaboration ever since. A central concern of their work is the relationship between people and the buildings they inhabit: "we shape our buildings, and thereafter they shape us". Langlands and Bell were among the group of Young British Artists whose work from the Saatchi Collection was included in the Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy, London, in 1997, and subsequently toured to the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York (1999).
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