Langlands & Bell (Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell) UNO City 1992

Artwork details

Title
UNO City
From London
Date 1992
Medium Blind embossed print
Dimensions Image: 710 x 745 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Acquired by purchase and gift from Charles Booth-Clibborn in memory of Joshua Compston 1997
Reference
P77929
Not on display

Summary

London is a portfolio of eleven prints made by eleven artists based in London. It was commissioned by Charles Booth-Clibborn and published under his imprint, The Paragon Press, London. The images were printed and editioned at Coriander Studio, London. The portfolio was produced in an edition of sixty-five, the first forty of which are portfolio sets and the remainder are the artists' copies. A further fifteen sets were produced for artists and collaborators. Tate's copy is number five in the edition. The title and colophon pages were designed by Phil Baines using his own typeface. The portfolio is contained in a black buckram-covered wooden case bearing the title in yellow. London is the second group portfolio published by The Paragon Press since its inception in 1986. It was conceived as a portable group exhibition containing work by emerging artists of the same generation. There is no particular common theme. Factors linking some of them are studying art at Goldsmiths College, London in the late 80s (where they were taught by Conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin, born 1941), working with Jay Jopling (who later opened White Cube Gallery in London) and being exhibited at the Saatchi and Karsten Schubert Galleries in London. Booth-Clibborn had already collected work by a number of the participating artists, few of whom had done any printmaking before embarking on the project. Most chose to work with screenprinting, with the exception of Langlands and Bell, whose image is embossed. Screenprinting is ideally suited to reproducing appropriated and photographic images. Its adoption reflects a characteristic use by young British artists (the group to which most of the London artists belong) of objects or images appropriated from everyday life. Individual prints vary in size, the type of paper used and the orientation of the image.

The image produced by Langlands and Bell, UNO City, is a blind embossed print, square in format, on 300gsm Somerset White Textured paper. It was printed by Ian Mortimer. It represents the architectural ground plan of the conference centre of the offices for the United Nations (UNO standing for United Nations Organisation) in Vienna. The offices are called UNO City. This conference centre is circular in form and divided into two assembly rooms each with a semi-circular seating arrangement in the form of an amphitheatre. Behind these are two semi-circles of booths, offices and lift-shafts. These in turn are surrounded by a circular corridor from which three T-shaped forms protrude, representing external lift shafts and staircases. Because of the relief structure resulting from the embossing technique, and without the text and figures that normally accompany architects' plans, the form represented in UNO City is reminiscent of a wax seal. Langlands and Bell have collaborated since 1978, making work which relates architectural structures (such as those represented in the ground plans of public buildings) with other structures and forms in visual language. For UNO City they drew the ground plan on tracing paper in black and white, from which it was transferred to the metal plate that was used to emboss the paper.

Further reading:
Contemporary British Art in Print: The Publications of Charles Booth-Clibborn and his Imprint The Paragon Press 1986-95, exhibition catalogue, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh 1995, pp.19 and 46-51, reproduced (colour) p.49
Langlands & Bell, exhibition catalogue, Serpentine Gallery, London and Kunsthalle Bielefeld, 1996
Jeremy Cooper, no FuN without U: the art of Factual Nonsense, London 2000, pp.39-41, reproduced p.40

Elizabeth Manchester
June 2002

About this artwork