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