Shout Magazine

Mark Kostabi on Tom Sachs

I’m in a good mood. I’m half done eating my large, thick, moist, triangular shaped brownie from Bottino take-out. I’ve got my paper cup filled with a second load of reliable Twinings Earl Grey tea. My landlord in Rome phoned me this morning, as promised, to inform me of the condition of my apartment after the burglary Sunday. Evidently no paintings were stolen. What a relief.

Tom Sachs will show his “Haute Bricolage” at Mary Boone Gallery through October 23. Sachs is best known for his distinctive objects made from cut and glued status shopping bags and boxes in the form of a toilet, a handaxe or a rat; they straightforwardly link consumerism with urban anxiety.

I’ve finished the brownie and the tea. I first saw Sachs’ inventive and quirky objects at the Sperone Gallery in Rome. Anna Kustera, New York’s nicest art dealer also likes Sachs’ work. So does Art in America cover boy Fred Tomaselli. About a year to two ago, the art world consensus was that Tom Sachs had the best show in Chelsea at the Morris Healy Gallery. Now that he is showing at the legendary Mary Boone gallery, he’s sure to pull out all the stops to outdo himself. This time Sachs will probe our relationship with mechanical devices that have become, in his term, “Cultural Prosthetics.”

Works like “Night Train,” “Sink Test Module” and “Toilet Test Module Number One” are elaborate aggregations of consumer products which elevate everyday contraptions into household shrines. Another group of works celebrates the “Boom Box” phenomenon with unlikely models rigged from full-size stereo equipment. Although equipped with enormous handles, they require built-in dollies or handcarts for ghost version of an airplane lavatory made from paper and foam core, painted white.

Tom Sachs’ hot glued, jerry rigged vision of the consumer condition helps me deal with the urban anxiety I get from Roman burglars. It helps me understand why many anxious urbanites pay $7 for a glass of Freshpikt orange juice from certain midtown restaurants, when at Muffin Man it’s only $2 for fresh squeezed.

September 1999