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Fantastic to be able to share the stunning talk at the Banatao Auditorium on October 17th, 2016 on “Sculpture. Simulacrum. Ritual.” by Tom Sachs. Described by Emma Allen for the New Yorker as a “mix of mad scientist, obsessive tinkerer, cult guru, taskmaster general, starry-eyed theoretician, and workout champion,” Tom Sachs is one of today’s most inspiring and influential sculptors. Best known for elaborate and transformative re-creations of various Modern icons, re-creations that are masterpieces of engineering and design, Sachs’ work confronts capitalist culture through bricolage. Check it out!
We were thrilled to host Tom Sachs at our first Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium lecture of the 2016-2017 season on October 17th! A full house packed into the Banatao Auditorium of Sutardja Dai Hall, and were rewarded for their efforts with stickers from Tom’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts show!
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Tom began his lecture by cycling through some of the influences on his art — from their sympathetic foundations (making a “camera” for his father, who could not afford the model he desired) to the impact of brands (Barbies and Glocks and McDonalds featuring). BCNM Director and author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo, Nicholas de Monchaux, then joined Tom on stage to have a conversation about some of his more recent work, including his NASA inspired installation currently on show at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Space Program: Europa. Tom and Nicholas discussed Tom’s time with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the history of NASA’s program, and how his study guided his work, touching on the elements of ritual and wonder that Tom brings to his art. Finally, the audience had the opportunity to ask Tom questions, ranging from the dynamics within his studio to his response to branding to his own artistic obsessions. Below, we’ve collected a few of his gems for your reading pleasure!
And check out photos from the event as well!
Tom’s Space Program: Europa is on show at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts until January 16th. More information can be found here: https://www.ybca.org/whats-on/space-program-europa
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Described by Emma Allen for the New Yorker as a “mix of mad scientist, obsessive tinkerer, cult guru, taskmaster general, starry-eyed theoretician, and workout champion,” Tom Sachs is one of today’s most inspiring and influential sculptors.
Best known for elaborate and transformative re-creations of various Modern icons, re-creations that are masterpieces of engineering and design, Sachs’ work confronts capitalist culture through bricolage. Critiquing the speed and regularity with which a materialistic society replaces commodities, Sachs uses both a profusion of commercial icons in his work and builds his own functioning versions of consumer goods using re-purposed items. His pieces are emphatically process-oriented as a result — an expression of the artist’s DIY spirit, divulging even the flaws of his complex and labor-intensive projects. This means that all seams, joints, screws, foamcore, and plywood are left exposed. Nothing is erased, sanded away, or rendered invisible. As Arthur Lubow wrote for the New York Times, “[Sachs] presides over a kingdom in which junk becomes treasure without ever ceasing to be junk.”
Still, beneath the pop-provocateur veneer, Sachs has always maintained a childlike awe of the golden age of industrial might and technology. And on a more philosophical level, the transparency of Sachs’ work means that nothing he makes is ever finished. Like any good engineering project, everything can always be stripped down, stripped out, redesigned and improved. The reward for work is more work. As Sachs himself explains, “I’m obsessed with innovation. […] That’s my impulsiveness.”
A self-described “middle-class kid from Connecticut,” Sachs received his BA from Bennington College in Vermont, before working with Frank Gehry and Tom Dixon. He gained fame creating cheeky depictions of famous brands, typically rendered in a DIY-style bricolage sculpture: Chanel guillotines, McDonald’s Value Meals emblazoned with Hermès logos and enormous Hello Kitty sculptures.
Sachs’ latest work is currently being exhibiting at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. His work has been collected by The Getty, Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, as well as Berkeley’s own BAM/PFA, among others.
Co-sponsored by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Art Practice Department.
ALL SEATS ARE AVAILABLE ON A FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED BASIS.
Berkeley’s Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium is an internationally recognized forum for presenting new ideas that challenge conventional wisdom about art, technology, and culture. This series, free of charge and open to the public, presents artists, writers, curators, and scholars who consider contemporary issues at the intersection of aesthetic expression, emerging technologies, and cultural history, from a critical perspective.