Sculpture Journal

Tom Sachs’s American Bricolage and the revised logic of space travel

Sculpture Journal (2017), 26, (3), 349–371.

Abstract

This article considers the sculptural practice of US sculptor Tom Sachs on the ten-year anniversary of his ongoing Space Program, a terrestrial replica of the NASA Apollo lunar mission and a sculptural and performative projection of the Mars and Europa missions. The culmination of a strategy of art-making Sachs calls ‘American Bricolage’, the Space Program demonstrates the successful transformation of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s concept of bricolage into a tool for engaging twenty-first-century experience. Though critically important to artists since its formulation in the late 1960s, Lévi-Strauss’s bricolage, a method of problem solving based exclusively on reusing materials at hand, has also been critiqued for reinforcing the very notion of closed systems, whether tribal or Modernist, that such art has challenged. This article argues that Sachs’s American Bricolage builds upon Lévi-Strauss’s example to model a practice that resists such limits and generates a productive rather than merely recyclative form of bricolage-based art.

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Author details

Kalb, Peter R.