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Monday March 25 2013 / Art & Design

Swiss-based creative duo Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann are a step ahead of the rest when it comes to art installations.

In their ‘Beautiful Steps’ series, Lang/Baumann have taken historic and modern buildings and adorned them with non-functional, mysteriously-floating interior staircases and unlikely outdoor steps and walkways that play tricks with the mind.

Beautiful Steps #2, for instance, sees the exterior of the congress building in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland fitted with an aluminium staircase connecting two fake doors.

This building has already been designed to look taller than it really is, with the rows of windows shorter than ceiling heights, giving the illusion that more floors are packed in. Lang/Baumann have enhanced this illusion by making a slightly smaller scale door and staircase.

That, coupled with the fact that the lack of handrails on the stairs would make for a pretty hair-raising cigarette break, makes Beautiful Steps #2 head-scratchingly
remarkable. This is art, not an emergency exit!

Beautiful Steps #3 features a curved pure white staircase suspended by slender, almost invisible cables, plumb in the middle of a baroque hall inside Trautenfels
Castle in Austria. These stairs are superbly juxtaposed with the lush frescoes above it.

In the same location, Lang/Baumann also fitted an open walkway looping around the outside of the castle’s corner tower, which is 'accessed' by symmetrical steps under the windows, to create Beautiful Steps #5.

For Beautiful Steps #6, the pair have suspended an all-white, snaking set of stairs inside the Fundación PROA museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A wonky staircase – again entirely white – installed between the floor and ceiling of a Galerie Loevenbruck in Paris, forms Beautiful Steps #8, and this can be modularly adjusted to different heights by adding steps or taking them away.

Finally, Beautiful Steps #9 features an arched staircase planted on the lawn of the Vaudoise Assurances administrative building in Lausanne, Switzerland.  While invisibly anchored in the ground, the sculpture inexplicably stands upright on its own.

The first step is horizontal and parallel to the ground, but with each successive step the stair twists away from its original axis by five degrees until it projects into space at a steep angle.

So how would Lang/Baumann describe themselves – artists, architects or designers?

Sabina Lang says: “We are artists and we mostly present our works in the context of art – even if it is in public spaces, it is in the framework of a contemporary art exhibition.

“We don’t think so much whether it is art or architecture. Rather, we use elements of architecture or elements of design in our works of art to engage in a dialogue with the observer.”

This interview below offers a nice insight into their creative approach.

And to see more of Lang/Baumann’s work, please visit their website.

Suggested by
Maximilian Büsser