Tom Sachs’ new exhibition is Synecdoche, New York meets Apollo 13.


Contemporary artist Tom Sachs’ SPACE PROGRAM: MARS takes us as close to Mars as many of us will ever get. With the help of public art organization Creative Time, Sachs recreates the Martian landscape in the 55,000 square foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall of the Park Ave. Armory. The immersive installation is not a 1:1 replica of what a Mars colony may be like (it features a tea house and land rovers at the same time) but instead speaks to something greater,

SPACE PROGRAM: MARS is 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 will man the installation, regularly demonstrating the myriad procedures, rituals, and tasks of their mission. The team will also “lift 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 takes on timely significance within Sachs’s work, which provokes 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. 

The project, in terms of production and process, is a lot like the simulated spaces of games like LittleBigPlanet, Minecraft and The Sims. These games allow creators to explore haves and have-nots, to create utopias or dystopias. For Sachs’ this process is known as bricolage but for those more familiar with games, it can be thought of as tinkering with characters or entire environments through the tools provided in the game.

Sachs masters this process and it makes Space Program: Mars all the more enticing. The exhibition runs until June 17th, go check it out!

[via Park Ave. Armory]