This May, Park Avenue Armory and Creative Time join forces with artist Tom Sachs to launch the next flight of his SPACE PROGRAM with an unprecedented four-week mission to Mars, all within Park Avenue Armory's soaring 55,000-square-foot drill hall. Following his 2007 mission to the moon, Sachs and his team take audiences to the further reaches of the solar system with an installation of dynamic and meticulously crafted sculptures. Using his signature bricolage technique, Sachs fashions aeronautical equipment and the world of another planet out of simple materials-foam-core, hot glue, plywood, and other standard materials that have been salvaged or are readily available from D.I.Y. catalogues. With painstaking detail, he creates elaborate spacecraft, exploratory vehicles, a Mission Control, launch platforms, and a Mars landscape, recasting the Wade Thompson Drill Hall as an immersive space odyssey at an ambitious scale.
SPACE PROGRAM: MARS is manned by Sachs and his studio team of thirteen, who will perform the myriad procedures, rituals, and tasks of their mission at the Armory from May 16 to June 17, 2012. The installation is curated by Creative Time President & Artistic Director Anne Pasternak and Park Avenue Armory Consulting Artistic Director Kristy Edmunds. A press preview of the installation will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2012.
In preparation for their lengthy mission, Sachs and his crew have engineered all that is necessary for survival, colonization, and scientific exploration in extraterrestrial environs, from food delivery and astronaut entertainment to human waste disposal. The team will spend the duration of the project in residency at the Armory working through mission tasks and systems, including Space Camp, Rover Deployment, Red Beans and Rice Preparation, and Suiting Protocol. Visitors will be invited to undergo a re-education or "indoctrination" process that will enable them to participate in the installation like a member of the studio team, ultimately earning the right to enter the Landing Excursion Module (LEM), Sachs' hand-sculpted and life-sized space capsule. Over the course of the installation, the team will also present 90-minute demonstrations of the SPACE PROGRAM: MARS "Flight Plan." During these events, visitors will witness the activation of the complex sculptural systems, rituals, and narratives that comprise the mission to Mars, from lift off to their first walk on the surface of Mars to collecting scientific samples.
"For SPACE PROGRAM: MARS, Tom Sachs has produced elaborate instruments of space travel out of found materials, and will create a dynamic interplay among astronauts. He is thus simulating all aspects of the iconic experience. The work is both humorous and serious, giving viewers insight into the challenges of space travel, but also leaving us to ponder our place in the universe," said Rebecca Robertson, President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory. Kristy Edmunds, Consulting Artistic Director at the Armory, added, "The shift in space travel from the public sector to the private mirrors Sachs' own work, which has often commented on the commercial impulse inherent in our society."
"Tom Sachs' work taps into the role of space flight in America and in the American psyche, particularly relevant given the recent grounding of the NASA shuttle program," said Anne Pasternak, President and Artistic Director of Creative Time. "SPACE PROGRAM: MARS blurs the lines between art and science, offering audiences a fresh perspective on the past, present, and future of space exploration."
In conjunction with SPACE PROGRAM: MARS, the Armory and Creative Time are developing educational programs that underscore how imagination and exploration are fundamental to both art and science and will host a panel discussion by experts on space travel, including scientists from NASA with whom Sachs worked while researching and developing his mission to Mars. The Museum of the Moon in the Armory's Veterans Room will showcase objects from Sachs' 2007 excursion to the moon, including spacesuits, drawings, paintings, and moon rock samples taken from the floor of Gagosian Gallery.
Evident in SPACE PROGRAM: MARS, and in Sachs' practice at-large, is a compulsive tinkerer's mentality and ribald wit. Beneath this is a conceptual underpinning that addresses serious and profound issues-namely the commodification of abstract concepts. From his crude perversions of weaponry and luxury accoutrements-including such works as HG, (Hermès Hand Grenade), 1995, and Chanel Guillotine (Breakfast Nook), 1998-to the complex inspection and detournement of re-imagined living systems-as seen in Sachs'SPACE PROGRAM-Sachs provokes reflection on utopian follies and dystopian realities. Throughout all of these explorations, Sachs' central concern is the craft of constructing. He strives to emphasize the presence of the human hand, reminding the viewer of the hard work involved, while challenging aspects of modern creativity that relate to conception, production, consumption, and circulation.