Jim Lambie / A Presentation

Lambie's work references popular culture, music and the everyday, many times overtly in his choice of titles, but also in his selection of materials and objects. Recently, the artist expressed to me his fascination with the Memphis group, the 80's Italian design collaborative. This is apparent in his work by the use of vibrant colors, patterns and space, and especially in his insistence on using everyday household materials. Memphis experimented with space and form in a way that broke with notions of “elegance” in its traditional definition. The group's repertoire of solutions expanded possibilities of design, as it introduced commonplace materials such as plastic, rubber and ceramic. In a similar way, Lambie deploys ephemeral sculptural materials such as duct tape, doors, mirrors, sequence, record covers, and safety pins; and he creates objects that break with the sleek, “good taste” high-tech aesthetics common to media and contemporary culture. His choice of materials is not necessarily political, nor does it respond to particular agendas or philosophies; instead it is made up of a vocabulary informed by pop culture and contemporary consumerism. As expressed by Susan Daniel-McElroy: “Different to the paradoxical preciousness of, for example, Arte Povera, with its rejection of art materials in favour of the debris of industrialization, Lambie's reanimation of tattered record sleeves, flea-market fashion and third-hand furniture doesn't ask to be admired for its humility or its triumph in adversity, but wants to be seen on its own terms.”

Lambie's well-known multi-colored floors, such as ZOBOP (1999), expand the parameters that define space and form. Like liquid, these floors take on the characteristics of the spaces they inhabit, emphasizing each corner and crevice of the space, making each experience of the same work entirely different from each other. In PARADISE GARAGE, the black and white floor installation presented at The Moore Space, strips of duct tape fragment the floor into small triangular and rectangular sections that multiply into a quasi-retro, psychedelic pattern.  In the process of creating PARADISE GARAGE, the artist engages in what one might call a directed collaboration. The artist sets a pattern, but as the collaborators work, they are “permitted” a certain extent of randomness within this pattern. Whereas the total effect of the work of art seems structurally rigid, upon closer inspection one realizes that the artist allows for certain deviations; and that the irregularities of handicraft and human intervention are evident. In the end, these angular sections multiply and spread throughout the entire space in a surface that envelopes the audience; and creates a vibrating sensation that is at once disorienting, as it is exhilarating. In his work, the artist's preoccupation lies beyond spatial transformation, but more so in creating an all-over experience for the visitor. In this spirit, although Lambie's floors are many times referred to as “paintings” and compared to the likes of Daniel Buren, Sol Lewitt and Bridget Riley, it is interesting for a moment to explore the relational qualities of the artist's floor pieces and possibility of the viewer's role in activating them.

Lambie considers himself to be primarily a sculptor. As one gazes over the surface of The Moore Space's floor installation, the rough wooden columns characteristic to the space seem to puncture the plastic floor from below and grow from under it, as if they were objects in the installation. Among the columns and scattered throughout the space are a selection of eight brightly painted sculptures. These sculptures are made out of doors that have been contorted and morphed out of shape into objects that seem to awkwardly dance in situ. They redefine their shape without veering too far away from simply being doors. The artist reclassifies objects as he eventually converts them into fetishistic artefacts: altar-tables, totems, accordions, and the like. With unapologetic formalism, the artist approaches his works with a simplicity and straightforwardness of form, refreshingly free of the exhausting conceptualist agendas of late.

PARADISE GARAGE, as do all of Jim Lambie's works, are a tongue in cheek exploration of our vernacular space. For his titles, he borrows from names of discos, song titles, fashion, food joints and commercial ads, among others. The titles, especially those of his sculptures (Funka-delic, Booge Wonderland, Psychedelic Soul Stick) reflect this from the get-go, as they delight in the constant flux of language, retro culture, and the hybrids of media and contemporary every-day life.

Silvia Karman Cubiñá
The Moore Space