Tom Sachs’s new show is called “Spaceships.” Fans of the artist’s crowd-pleasing shop-class space program won’t be disappointed. For those tired of that gimmick, the exhibition also includes a well-tooled Technics turntable made of wood, an upright vacuum cleaner with a vintage Chanel purse for the dirt, and a model Titanic that really sinks. It’s the sort of sculpture that back-of-house museum contractors make when things are slow, only more so. His studio staff were there at the crowded opening, discernible among the masses by the 10 Bullets patch on their work shirt breasts: one bullet for each point of Sachs’s strict code of conduct. With a skill set that includes construction, woodworking, sculpture and light electrical, they aren’t fabricators so much as acolytes of a D.I.Y. religion.
While art workers stand up to management in Philadelphia, and shout down Highsnobiety and Christie’s attempt to merchandise their toil, this show speaks of the exhibition technician and the gallery preparator. The unpainted plywood is nice plywood, the screws visible along the self-consciously unerased pencil lines are nice screws. There’s even an outright shrine to the Makita 18-volt battery mounted on one wall, ranks of them charging in their cradles, waiting their turn to power the LEDs on screens on the extraterrestrial landers crafted from a self-cleaning litter box or a mop bucket, a stiff little Stars and Stripes planted on its roof. It’s a homage to the art handler aesthetic — despite the spaceships.
- TRAVIS DIEHL