Jim Lambie at his exhibition in Tokyo

Jim Lambie: Rock ‘n’ Roll Art

The biggest art award in Britain, the Turner prize has been discovering many controversial artists in the last decade including Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin and the Chapman Brothers. One of the four nominees for the Turner prize in 2005 was Scottish artist Jim Lambie whose work resembles pop culture and rock ’n’ roll. PingMag met him at his first exhibition in Japan: ‘P.I.L’ at Mizuma Gallery.

Written by Chiemi

Jim Lambies’ The Kinks that shortlisted for Turner prize 2005 was made as a homage to the 60’s British band The Kinks. This strongly visual installation with the whole floor covered in black, silver and white sticky tapes combined with colourful bird sculptures makes you feel like there’s really loud rock music playing from your speakers.

Jim Lambie Installation view, Turner Prize 2005 exhibition © Tate 2005

Jim used to be in a band called The boy hairdressers and also designed the cover for Primal Scream‘s Dirty Hits album. Is he an artist with a rock attitude? Let’s find out…

Jim, looking at your works at your first exhibition in Japan: what does the title of main work Zobop mean?

Zobop: a very slick broken door
… and some more detail

Zobop was a nickname I saw sprayed in N.Y. So, it doesn’t really mean anything, but I liked the idea of having ‘bop’ in the title because it references to some kind of music like B-bop.

A sprayed nickname? I see. I noticed this other object in your exhibition here which looks like it is spraying something on the wall…

a heavy concrete block on spray cans continuously spraying onto the wall

Yeah, I put a block of concrete on the top of spray cans and let them do whatever they do.

So, the concrete block basically keeps spraying paint on the walls?

Right! Until the cans get empty they spray continually onto the wall. That will probably take four or five months to finish.

Nice! So the cans are making the art work for you! Generally, I find that your art looks very stylish and slick. Is that true, though, that you use junk for your work?

Yeah, I use things you find at flee markets, everyday materials. The reason why is because I like the reality of the material.

Do you use second hand electric stuff too?

I’ve used a second-hand light, record decks and the electric motor on the ceiling for the object I specially made for this exhibition. Why are you asking?

These giant eye-lashes have a motor attached to them and are rotating hanging from the ceiling. Jim made these especially for his Tokyo Exhibition

Well, I thought your show might have been something to do with the PSE thing which was supposed to happen from 1st April in Japan. It’s a very controversial law that tells you to no longer sell any second-hand electric stuff without the proper PSE stickers. Even stuff like vintage guitars! But the law has already been changed since so many musicians raised their

voices against it.

Good for them! But hmmm.. that’s very interesting because I arrived on the 1st of April. Maybe they knew I was coming… (haha)

You actually made your works during your stay here in Japan. What kind of things have inspired you in Tokyo?

Well, I think that inspiration is actually misused. It’s more about noticing something. Or maybe it’s just something presenting itself, the way something holds itself together. … I don’t believe so much in inspiration.

But people say that your work is visually related to rock music!?? I thought that music always inspired you?

I’m happy that people say that about music, but I actually always start from a sculptural position. I don’t make a piece of work thinking about music. Music speaks it for itself! This pattern on the floor here is like a rhythm, almost like a beat, but that happened very naturally.

Jim Lambie’s book VOIDOID

a rock-feeling floor designed by Jim Lambie is for The Hide Out shop in London

I see… What do you want your audience in Tokyo to feel when looking at your work?

I want them to feel whatever they want to feel. I want them to bring themselves into the work until they feel free to speak out their ideas and thoughts about the work. Hopefully that can start a conversation, and then that conversation can become a dialogue, and that dialogue can make the work more interesting.

another piece from the Tokyo exhibition: everyone will have a different idea about this

So you are actually craving for your audience’s reaction?

Well, yes! That way I can find out things about my work which I didn’t know.

Thank you, Jim. It was great to meet you!

  • http://www.ooops.pl/ makowski

    it’s really stupid:
    the problem with (= most of) “modern artists” is that They didn’t want to learn…
    to educate.
    it’s Stolen “art” simply.

  • http://www.makewerk.com nick

    um, isnt he just referencing the rorschach ink blot test?

  • http://none pascal

    first of all the correct link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rorschachinkblottest

    and then: how can YOU be so silly to believe, that Jim ever claimed to having invented the ink blot test? don’t you see that he expects you as the visitor to know what it is?

  • http://none pascal

    ah! ping comments don’t like underbars…. sorry! ;-)

  • asinomasimple

    What the hell are you going on about?
    By the way it’s Damien Hirst.

  • http://none lk773

    good question! I like the eye lashes. wonder how big those are….

  • Chrome

    The problem with Makowski (comment one)
    is that he/she doesn’t know how to look at anything. Limited visual skills and weak filtering system for a brain, leads to his/her confusion when confronted with new information. He/she needs constantly spoon fed with low doses of information, in order to be able to absorb life in general.

  • http://www.ooops.pl/ makowski

    and yess; i’m To Old ;-)

  • sal

    Lambie’s stuff is brilliant. He should have won the Turner Prize but they had to play safe eh? Go for the environmentalist and not the artist!! Warhol lives on in this mad guy or perhaps Warhol wishes he was this guy. Either way..a genius and I know Damien Hirst would agree.

  • Anonymous

    interesting interpretation of Zobop by the artist. however a little digging would have informed him about the meaning in qquestion:


  • http://www.arssummum.net roberto scafidi

    My name is Roberto Scafidi, artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina.I was shocked and amazed when a student in my class
    showed me a photograph of the MoMAs floor by this Jim Lambie, its a total rip off my work. Im working in this line since 1993, there are many catalogues and books in the National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires that can prove what im saying. You can check some of my work at http://www.arssummum.net , a art history site from Spain , write my last name in the “busqueda” case and you could see. Its not “quite like it” its a detail of one of my works, every and each color, the composition, etc. I cant believe the lack of ethics of this guy,but … Mark Harden of the Artchive knows my work since 2006, and many other people in the U.S, and Europe.Got some coleector in Paris, Munich, Italy and Spain, besides Latin America. Please check what Im saying, you will see its true. I´ve been awarded some times, by the French Embassy in 1991´92, lived in Paris in The cité Internationale des Arts. I´m not saying this out of vanity, but to remark that I have
    many years working behind me , and many people know my work, and coldnt believe when they saw this plagiarization. I
    hope you can spread this news for the truths sake.
    My mail is
    Thank you very much

  • http://pd123@googlemail.com oearl diver

    Dearest Roberto,
    This is totally unfair to you.
    I feel your influence on contemporary art
    doesnt just stop at this guy,
    I have found others who are ripping you off!
    Please please please check out these artists also.
    They are all out there stealing your idea!
    One is this guy calling himself Albers. not very interesting work.
    Another is a woman, I think. Goes by the name of Riley. A lot of it is in black and white, but it is so obvious she has trawled the internet and found your work and adapted it to her own paintings.
    Also there are many many more…..
    people like a guy calling himself Farnk Stella, (sounds like made-up name to me)
    and the list goes on and on and on.
    I do feel bad for you having suxh a great idea and then people(if we can call them that) taking that great idea and making believe that it was theirs.
    After all Roberto, You are the guy who invented the stripe on canves and not only that, you took it one stage futher, like magic, and put it in a box.
    These people should be ashamed of themselves,
    but remember who your real friends are Roberto.
    They would never do this to you Roberto,

  • http://sdsustudent monica g

    thank you for your work, it is life altering.


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