About the Project
Artist Tom Sachs took his SPACE PROGRAM to the next level with a four-week mission to Mars that recast the Park Avenue Armory’s 55,000 square foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall as an immersive space odyssey with an installation of dynamic and meticulously crafted sculptures. Using his signature bricolage technique and simple materials that comprise the daily surrounds of his New York studio, Sachs engineered the component parts of the mission—exploratory vehicles, mission control, launch platforms, suiting stations, special effects, recreational amenities, and Mars landscape—exposing as much the process of their making as the complexities of the culture they reference.
SPACE PROGRAM: MARS was a demonstration of all that is necessary for survival, scientific exploration, and colonization in extraterrestrial environs: from food delivery systems and entertainment to agriculture and human waste disposal. Sachs and his studio team of thirteen manned the installation, regularly demonstrating the myriad procedures, rituals, and tasks of their mission. The team also “lifted off” to Mars several times throughout their residency at the Armory, with real-time demonstrations playing out various narratives from take-off to landing, including planetary excursions, their first walk on the surface of Mars, collecting scientific samples, and photographing the surrounding landscape.
Beneath the compulsive tinkerer’s mentality and ribald wit that permeate SPACE PROGRAM: MARS, and Sachs’ work at-large, is a conceptual underpinning that addresses serious and profound issues—namely the commodification of abstract concepts such as originality, shock, newness, and mystery—expressing them in the personal and physical terms of production and process. With the recent shuttering of NASA’s shuttle program and the shifting focus towards privatized space travel, SPACE PROGRAM: MARS took on timely significance within Sachs’s work, which provoked reflection on the haves and have-nots, utopian follies and dystopian realities, while asking barbed questions of modern creativity that relate to conception, production, consumption, and circulation.
SPACE PROGRAM: MARS