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matters musical. Many pieces share their titles with pop hits. the 12in record is a recurring prop. the spirit of Larry l.evan hovers behind those disco-lied turntables and the abstract floor sculptures call to mind the cover of Blondie‘s l’umllcl Linus or the dance floor of some subterranean nitespot.
For Lambie. these seemingly central concerns are. at best. tangential to his work. 'lt‘s referenced by other people.‘ he says. ‘and I can’t really deny that it‘s there. but . . . I make sculpture. I always start the work from a sculptural point of view. I‘m trying to make new sculpture. I‘m trying to contextualise sculpture. It‘s always sculpture. Music might bleed into the work. as something that I like
and because I use the stuff that‘s round about me. stuff
that's lying around. like the records. I use them as pure material. but then the readings are there for everybody. the signs are there for everybody. My point is that it never starts from there — I wouldn‘t know where to start describing music through sculpture. or through painting. or through anything that I do.‘
What. then. is behind the music in Lambie's work'.’ The answer seems simple enough on the surface: space. ‘I work from an idea. and turn it into material] he says. ‘As opposed to other conceptual artists who try to get away from objects. I‘m trying to get into them. I create myself a problem and try to find a solution that I‘m happy with. Things like: “How do you make a corner piece?" or: "If I take this apart. what does that do?" Just question alter question about space. It‘s more about a need than a want. about the necessity of a situation. I deal with a floor. instead of saying: “I want a floor." If I did that I'd end tip with some solid-gold lloor thing with big metal rivets in it that didn‘t respond to the context. that was just something that l conjured up.‘
It‘s a fluid approach driven by his experience as a
young artist who was overly driven by theory. ‘I used to make really tight conceptual work. where everything is handed to you.‘ he says. ‘I wasn‘t enjoying making that work. I was paralysing myself with too much theory. so I started to make stuff and then think about it once it was made. Starting with a simple problem. then working through that is enough to be getting on with.‘
Lambie even denies any strong thematic ties between his pieces. though such links appear obvious to the viewer. ‘1 never think about that.~ he says. ‘l‘m always just working on that question that‘s come to me through the piece I'm working on at that time. I want to stay like that. If! start to understand what I’m doing too much. then it becomes too knowing. too calculated. 1 want an interesting life. I want to be making different stuff. I don‘t want to be identified as that guy who does that one thing.~
This isn't contrariness for its own sake. For all Lambie’s insistence that he is. above all. a sculptor concerned with space. and his reluctance to accept responses that latch on to what is. for him. an almost coincidental immersion in music. he ends up by demolishing any conﬂict between his aims and the viewer’s response.
‘l’eople are free to bring to that piece and take from that piece whatever they want to. The work is a starting point for other people. not an end result for me. People will thread anything through these pieces. and that can surprise me. and surprise them. It‘s more a generative thing than anything to do with putting hard edges on my ideas. I’m into flow and change. and making work that allows other people to feel that same thing. There's just too many fucking edges. you know'."
Jim Lambie: Kebabylon, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Wed 22 Jan-Sun 30 Mar.
'I WANT AN INTERESTING LIFE - I DON'T WANT TO BE IDENTIFIED AS THAT GUY WHO DOES THAT ONE THING'
Pop culture infuses his
work, from turntables to Blondie, but Lambie says that’s not what it’s about
it} .St‘ .Jan 2003 THE LIST 13