Tom Sachs' SPACE PROGRAM Returns to Park Avenue Armory in May


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.

Tom Sachs is known for his innovative renaming, examination, and questioning of icons of capitalist culture and systems of daily life. Sachs' SPACE PROGRAM first launched in 2007 with a mission to the moon at Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles, inspired by and reimagining man's first landing on the moon in 1969.

Sachs' work has been included in many exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad, and is in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo. Major solo exhibitions include the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (2009), Fondazione Prada, Milan (2006), Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (2003), the Bohen Foundation, New York (2002), and SITE Santa Fe (1999).

Born in New York in 1966, Sachs studied at the Architectural Association in London and received a B.A. from Bennington College, Vermont, in 1989.  He currently lives and works in New York. Sachs works with Sperone Westwater, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, and Baldwin Gallery.


Public Programs


Thursdays, May 24, 31, & June 7 – 8pm

Sachs and his studio team will conduct three, ninety-minute demonstrations of the SPACE PROGRAM: MARS "Flight Plan." During these events, audiences will witness the activation of complex sculptural systems, rituals, and narratives that comprise the mission to Mars.

Tickets: $15


Artist Talk: Tom Sachs

Friday, June 1 – 7pm

Join Tom Sachs for an informal discussion with Anne Pasternak and Kristy Edmunds about his artistic process, collaborations, and the inspiration behind his ongoing SPACE PROGRAM project.

Tickets: $10


Breakfast with NASA Scientists

Saturday, June 16 – 10am

Join scientists Kevin Hand and Tommaso Rivellini in conversation with Tom Sachs for a discussion of Mars exploration, where they will share their experiences working in the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Tickets: $10


Weekend Family Programming: Life on Mars: Imagining the Incredible

Saturday, June 2, Sunday, June 3, & Saturday, June 9 – 10am

Families with children are invited to join educational workshops led by members of the Armory Artist Corps during which they will be able to create their own personal journey to outer space in response to the installation. Art making stations along the way will provide a souvenir of the journey. Recommended for families with children between the ages of 5 and 12. Register online or by emailing

$5 Materials fee per participant


Exhibition Sponsors

SPACE PROGRAM: MARS is sponsored by Lighting Science. Additional support provided by Bloomberg, the Cogut Family Foundation, the Dorothea Leonhardt Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas, GLM, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Ronald & Jo Carole Lauder Foundation, and the Wagner Family Foundation. Generous individual support is provided by Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, Jill Brienza and Nick Daraviras, Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Kate Engelbrecht and Jed Walentas, Ken Kuchin, Nancy and Robert Magoon, Gael Neeson and Stefan Edlis, Amy and John Phelan, Jennifer and David Stockman, and Elizabeth Swig.

Citi is Park Avenue Armory's official sponsor for the 2012 season.

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