artist / participant
From May 16 through June 17, Park Avenue Armory and Creative Time join forces with artist Tom Sachs to launch SPACE PROGRAM: MARS, a four-week mission to the Red Planet that explores the universe as a path to discovering ourselves. This interactive installation recasts Park Avenue Armory's 55,000-square-foot drill hall as an immersive space odyssey featuring dynamic and meticulously crafted sculptures, including elaborate spacecraft, Mission Control, a launch platform, a Mars landscape, and much more. SPACE PROGRAM: MARS will be manned by Sachs and his studio team of thirteen, who will perform the myriad procedures, rituals, and tasks of their mission at the Armory.
In preparation, Sachs and his crew have engineered all that is necessary for survival, colonization, and scientific exploration in extraterrestrial environs. They will perform mission tasks and systems throughout the run of the exhibition, including Space Camp, Rover Deployment, Red Beans and Rice Preparation, and Suiting Protocol. The team will also "lift off" to Mars several times, with real-time demonstrations playing out various narratives from takeoff to landing, including their first walk on the surface of Mars.
"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 explores the idea of space travel as a lens through which we can examine ourselves and our present, past, and future."
Rebecca Robertson, President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory, said: "For the launch of SPACE PROGRAM: MARS, Tom Sachs has produced elaborate instruments of space travel and will create a dynamic interplay among astronauts, thus simulating all aspects of the iconic experience without actually getting to Mars. The work is both humorous and serious, giving viewers insight into the challenges of space travel, but also leaving us to ponder one's place in the universe." 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."
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. As seen in SPACE PROGRAM, Sachs provokes reflection on utopian follies and dystopian realities. Throughout all of these explorations, Sachs' central emphasis is on the craft of constructing and the presence of the human hand. He reminds the viewer of the hard work involved, while asking barbed questions of modern creativity that relate to conception, production, consumption, and circulation.
In conjunction with SPACE PROGRAM: MARS, the Armory and Creative Time have developed public educational programs that underscore how imagination and exploration are fundamental to both art and science. Programs include live demonstrations of the "Flight Plan," an artist talk with the project's curators, two breakfasts with Sachs in conversation with NASA scientists, and weekend workshops for families.
About Park Avenue Armory Part palace, part grand industrial shed, Park Avenue Armory is a non-profit cultural institution dedicated to presenting spectacular visual art and performances. With its 55,000-square-foot drill hall and array of exuberant period rooms, the Armory fills a critical void in the cultural ecology of New York City by enabling artists to create—and the public to experience—unconventional work that could not otherwise be mounted in the city.
SPACE PROGRAM: MARS