Tom Sachs: Galactic Vision

Inside Mission Control for the Artist’s Voyage to Mars

Preparations for lift-off at artist Tom Sachs' cavernous Chinatown studio ahead of SPACE PROGRAM: MARS—a month-long installation at New York’s Park Avenue Armory recreating a mission to the Red Planet—are captured in this series from photographer Coke O'Neal. From simple materials like glue, screws, plywood and paper, Sachs and his team have created an eclectic array of space-themed sculptures through his signature bricolage technique, blurring art and life in a mix of wit and compulsive attention to detail. Making a name for himself with works like “Hermés Value Meal,” which revamps the iconic McDonalds meal in signature Hermés packaging, Sachs’ first SPACE PROGRAM back in 2007 recreated a mission to the moon from Los Angeles’ Gagosian gallery, with performers wearing lab coats designed by Prada and moon boots courtesy of Nike. This year’s Mars mission is an immersive, grand-scale affair in the 55,000-square-foot hall of the Armory where audiences may participate in the odyssey and enter a handmade, life-sized space capsule. Access to the studio is granted only to select visitors, who are cataloged through a required check-in process that includes creating hand-made photo IDs with a “Please Destroy After Use” disclaimer. “It’s like something from a childhood dream, where every inch is like a living sculpture,” recalls O’Neal of the exhibit, where even a trip to the bathroom presents an unexpected surprise: “A vintage tube shortwave radio glows and plays the static hum of a Russian radio station as you go.”

SPACE PROGRAM: MARS is at the Park Avenue Armory, New York, until June 17.

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