Tom Sachs Space Program Mars at the Park Ave Armory

When you read ‘About Tom Sachs’ the explanation is usually along the lines of “innovative re-examination, re-construction and exploration of capitalist cultural icons and systems of daily life.”

For Space Program Mars, Sachs recreated his own version of NASA space mission to Mars and astronaut protocols in a series of videos, sculptures, and performative installations.

The most important part of the experience at the Armory is emphatically the ‘indoctrination.’ Participants are ‘indoctrinated’ through watching a series of videos, and then moving through the Mars stages and completing assessments and challenges in order to achieve the final prize that is access into the LEM – landing module.

I attended this show with a wonderful friend, who coincidentally works for a major aeronautic company. When one of Sachs’ studio assistants-come-indoctrinaters tried to convince us to participate in the indoctrination assessment test to be tasked with a skillful chore (either sweeping or screw sorting) – she laughed and remarked that “this is what the aeronautical field truly feels like, in regards to protocols and behaviours, and assessments” and she did not quite see the what Sachs was satirizing.

Key take aways from this remarkable program is:

a) The powertools are named after rap heros

b) Live by the bullets, especially #8 Always Be Knolling (I highly recommend watching the videos, they are spectacularly produced

Tom Sachs Always Be Knolling

c) His lucrative collaboration with Nike in creating limited edition running shoes and bags is amazing exclamation point in on a oeuvre highlighing capitalism.

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