Despina Zefkili

JIM LAMBIE; CURATED BY BIRGIT HOFFMEISTER: THE BREEDER PROJECTS - ATHENS, GREECE

Jim Lambie, installation view "Afro-disiac", records, belts, paper, Dubmental, glove, bamboo, paint

 

The first thing you see entering Jim Lambie's show at The Breeder Projects is a reflection of yourself, or rather, a whole series of reflections. Six mirrors hanging one next to the another invite you to slow down and have a look at your visage. Don't expect to see a clean-cut self-portrait, but rather, a blurred, vague image. Cut in strange shapes and covered with vinyl-dust, the mirrors reflect the colors of the rainbow and resemble the ones you might come across in cheap discos. What those mirrors seem to picture is more the expectation with which you look at yourself in the mirror, at the entrance of a crowded night club, or as you exit your house, checking your appearance for a last time before leaving for a big night out. The rituals of preparing yourself to go out are central to Lambie's work. You just have to look at all the other accessories, aside from mirrors, of which his artistic vocabulary consists. Gloves, belts, buttons, and alicebands are some examples, all of which are the last things you put on when dressing up, and yet, ones that are most closely attached to the body. And then there are the records . . . Records, like the ones in “Afro-disiac,” that hang on the wall with their black vinyl circles, resembling the hair of the afro-american singers, while cheap and fancy belts drop like long tears from inside them. Or record sleeves like the ones in “Reflections in Gold”, picturing idyllic spaces with the names of the songs covered by vinyl tape making it easier for you to live the dream. But even in cases like these, which make clear reference to music, Lambie's work is not just about music. These two works alone prove his skill at working on vastly different scales, with sensitivity to context and materials that can be both banal and touching. Having been a DJ, the artist seems to be using records more like day to day objects, like basic tools with which he is so familiar with, that he can easily use them in a Deconstructive way. The record is just a point of departure, and then it is all about getting away from the object. This can be even better understood in the “Body+Soul” piece, a white glove with lots of different buttons sewn on it. What at first may seem a cheap mocking version of Michael Jackson's famous glove, gains extra significance from the fact that the artist has commissioned a young girl to do the sewing. Once moved by the famous Vermeer painting of a sewer, Lambie attempts his own study of body spirituality, hidden in the intimate procedure of sewing, by using the things which he considers most intimate to him. “Psychedelicsoulstick #37” is Lambie's version of a fake religious object, which appears in all of his shows, blessing them in a shamanistic way. It consists of a bamboo stick tied up with different colors of cloth, guitar lead, thread, and small pieces of trash that the artist finds “in situ”, and wants to keep with him. “Kebabylon”, Lambie's portrait of the woman, is a beautiful sculptural piece made of alicebands, (headbands) stuck together using black tape. Here again, the banal but symbolic material and the half junk (kebab) half mythical (Babylon) title create psychedelic connotations. When it comes to picturing himself, Lambie resorts to his common music vocabulary, to come up with, what I consider, the best piece of work in the show. “Dubmental” consists of a glove on the top, and a handful of bamboo sticks that stem as extensions of the fingers. From each one of them, a different color of paint has been poured on the floor. As a result, an Abstract Expressionistic piece has been created from the mixing of the different colors on the floor. Resembling the magic fingers of the DJ on the dexx, or those of the painter on the palette, the bamboo sticks seem to stand for order, while, on the other hand, the stunning psychedelic effect of the abstract color motifs can be seen as a symbol of instability and discontinuity. While this piece of work can be invested with insights into the role of the artist, or the boundaries and liberties which define the process of artistic creation, it could also easily be read as a negation of it all. Here again, music bleeds into Lambie's work, but is not essential to it; ultimately he is always dealing with sculpture.

Despina Zefkili
Athens, Greece
2002