For the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014), well-known Glaswegian artist Jim Lambie transformed the Level 1 Gallery space at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia with one of his signature ‘Zobop’ floor works. This ephemeral site-specific installation used brightly coloured vinyl tape to trace and accentuate the architectural nuances of the building.

With his Zobops, Lambie speaks of trying to fill and empty a space simultaneously, a seemingly paradoxical pursuit that fits his work perfectly. Although created with a single material on a flat space, the striped tape gives the impression of multilayered movement, even pulsation. There are innumerable lines, patterns and edges at work, but at the same time they all seem to dissolve, merging into a unified landscape of energy. The result is mesmerising, uplifting and at times vertiginous, as his optical wonderland challenges our proprioceptive process.

Lambie’s Zobop (2014) was accompanied by a number of new and existing sculptural works, including Psychedelic Soul Stick 68 (2007) and Vortex (This Perfect Day) (2013), a circular sculpture that has the visual effect of being recessed into the wall of the gallery. Lambie often constructs his sculptural pieces from second-hand objects sourced in local thrift stores and online. They are familiar and accessible in their everydayness, but are repurposed by Lambie in true glam-rock style; bedecked with glitter, mirrors and paint, they are rendered new and bewitching.

Since graduating from the Glasgow School of Art in 1994, Lambie has worked with film, video, painting, installation and sculpture, often using everyday materials and familiar objects to create works that pull the viewer into a vibrant, abstract psychological space. A musician from his teens and now a DJ, Lambie litters his work with references to rock n’ roll music and its ephemera, often incorporating posters, vinyl records, and even turntables into his installations.

In the 1990s, Lambie began making work with readily available materials that he came across in the course of daily life – vinyl records, album sleeves, cigarettes and sticky tape; the latter, the most humble of objects, is now absolutely central to his practice. Some Zobop floor installations, such as the reprisal of Zobop Fluoro (2004) presented at the Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas in 2011, create a seamless backdrop for Lambie’s other sculptural works. Sonic Reducer (2008), a concrete cube filled with 12-inch vinyl records, and Danceteria X (2007), a wall-mounted chair and handbag covered in mirrored shards, seem to draw a certain energy from the alternating rhythmic stripes. Lambie often incorporates eyes into his assemblages; ripped from magazines, they peer out from the centre of vinyl records or between reflective shards of glass. Lambie has described the tape installations as being similar to a bass line, with other sculptures placed in the space floating above like vocals or a guitar riff over a measured drumbeat. Audiences are enveloped in a dramatic, sometimes confronting, transformative environment that Lambie intends to have a similar feel to the immersive effect of listening to music.

Lambie represented Scotland in the country’s inaugural Venice Biennale participation in 2003. His work has been widely exhibited in international solo and group exhibitions, including ‘Everything Louder Than Everything Else’, Galleria Franco Noero, Turin (2012); ‘Spiritualized’, Anton Kern Gallery, New York (2011); ‘Metal Urbain’, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2010); ‘Jim Lambie: Selected Works 1996–2006’, Charles Riva Collection, Brussels (2009); and ‘Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour, 1950 to Today’, MoMA, New York (2008), and Tate Liverpool (2009).


  • Title: Zobop
  • Creator: Jim Lambie
  • Creator Lifespan: 1964
  • Creator Nationality: Scottish
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Birth Place: Glasgow
  • Date: 2014
  • Location Created: Sydney, Australia
  • Provenance: Courtesy the artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow
  • Type: Site Specific/Installation
  • Rights: http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/
  • External Link: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: vinyl tape, varnish
  • Edition: 2014: 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire

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