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zingmagazine10 autumn 1999

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reviews

 

 

Jim Lambie, ZOBOP, Installation Views

JIM LAMBIE: ZOBOP; THE SHOWROOM • LONDON, ENGLAND

The floor of The Showroom has been covered in strips of brightly colored vinyl that immediately grab attention. The strips run parallel to each other in three different widths, ranging from one to three inches. The color sequence seems random and there is no striving for the intense effect produced, for instance, in a Bridget Riley painting that sandwiches a thin band of white between dark bands and repeats that sizzling juxtaposition throughout the canvas. Instead, the eye is drawn to the floor by a particular color—there are about ten on offer—and then encouraged to zoom along the course of it.
The strips circumnavigate the gallery, one inside the other. Idiosyncrasies of the room’s perimeter—a doorway inlaid by a few inches or a pillar protruding from the wall—are picked up and passed in from one strip to the next. The strip adjoining the walls of the gallery is pale green; this, together with the next 20 or so strips, traces the outline of both rooms of The Showroom. There comes a point where the doorway between the spaces is too narrow to allow another strip to pass. From here on, the contours of the two rooms diverge. Artist Jim Lambie chose the color scheme in the front room, where the vinyl forms a skin over a concrete floor. While gallery director Kirsty Ogg was free to choose the brighter colors in the back room, the lines of the wooden floorboards are just visible but essentially usurped by the glossy new lines.
A monochrome version of the vinyl strip floor has previously been installed by Jim Lambie in the more rectangular Stills Gallery in Edinburgh (both of The Showroom’s spaces are predominantly triangular, with converging walls). At Stills, the context was a group show with work by various artists displayed over the floor. Here the choice of three additional exhibits has been made by the artist: a marble-effect painting attached to a roller skate is all but invisible in the front room; a bamboo stick with a broken Buddha serving as a kind of handle leans against the wall in the back room (it’s called psychedelicsoulstick and is bound together with multicolored thread). On the wall opposite is weird beard, a wall-mounted collage of hundreds of eyes cut out from magazines. None of these objects need distract the viewer for long; indeed, all point back to an engagement with the floor. Walking a contour, gaze roaming free . . .
I’m standing in the middle of the back room. It’s restful here, where the irregularities of the room have been honed down to leave a pure triangle shape which is repeated, and gets smaller, strip after strip. What happens to the irregularities? The four inch inlay of the door to the director’s room is the normal width of a doorway to begin with, but each subsequent strip reduces the gap, eventually to nothing. In a similar but opposite way, protrusions from the walls become bigger with each strip, until eventually they coalesce and form a straight edge. So everything works out in the end, that’s to say in the middle, where I’m now sitting comfortably . . .
The door to the director’s room opens and Kirsty Ogg emerges. She looks right—to where my boots have been discarded in the L-shaped center of the concrete-floored room—while I stare at the purple-and-orange hooped socks she’s wearing. She asks me what I’m doing. I tell her I’m in the zone. She points out that I’ve been in the gallery for three hours, and reminds me that The Sunday Times are due here any minute to do a fashion shoot using ZOBOP as a backdrop. All I can say is that I’m in the zone and don’t want to move. She’s sympathetic to my condition. After all, she’s lived with this floor for a month and knows of its time-eating and will-sapping properties. Mind-calming and brain-waving, I’d agree. Psychedelicsoulspace.
As I lie down—eyes closing—I see her door zigzagging shut.

Duncan McLaren
London, England
1999