• Ideas
  • Jun 18, 2019

Do It Yourself: Interview with Tom Sachs

Portrait of TOM SACHS. Photo by Mario Sorrenti. All images copyright the artist; courtesy the artist and Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” On numerous different occasions, Tom Sachs has cited this aphorism, made popular by astronomer Carl Sagan. To Sachs, the quote suggests how, in making room for the “extraordinary,” science overlaps with and in many ways has engulfed religion and art, which historically in the West represented religious experience. Over his nearly-two-decade study on what has replaced, or perhaps more accurately, adopted the guise of spirituality in culture, he has in turn been transforming countless ordinary objects into extraordinary simulacra of “prosthetic” substitutes for the spiritual. In particular, Sachs creates bricolage copies of equipment used in space expeditions, reflecting on science’s quest for the unknown, and humanity’s connection with cosmic forces. Sachs’s "Space Program," launched in 2007, is an immersive fictional scenario that imagines various intergalactic missions via performances and sculptures. The program has involved the manufacture of equipment including launch platforms, suiting stations and various vehicles designed to traverse the surfaces of the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter’s moon Europa, from everyday materials such as plywood, foamcore and cardboard. In one of the project’s iterations, Space Program: Mars (2012), Sachs incorporated the Japanese tea ceremony, where two performers make and sip tea from sculptures of cups within a space shack replete with tatami mats, conjuring the hypothetical intergalactic export of human culture.