The Park Avenue Armory in New York is a massive, unobstructed cavern in Manhattan. It was built 140 years ago as ‘a military facility and social club’.

I still chuckle when I read that phrase. A military facility and social club? That seems like two old-world concepts, reinterpreted with a new American twist. I can’t shake this mental image of fancy high society types sitting at round tables and applauding, while World War II era soldiers joust on motorbikes.

Sorry. I got distracted, the original point I was trying to make is that the Armory is a very old building with a ton of historical significance. Over the years, it’s hosted all sorts of important dignitaries and events. And in 2012, it was the perfect home for Tom Sachs’ Mission to Mars, where astronauts ‘sampled’ the antique wooden floor with a chainsaw mounted on a zimmer frame.

It would have been fascinating watching the faces of the Armory staff as the chainsaw pierced the floor and threw sawdust into the air. Did they know about it beforehand? Or was it sheer horror… “But that’s the spot where Queen Elizabeth II danced at a Commonwealth Society Ball!”

Tom is about to embark upon the fourth mission in his Space Program. It departs from Hamburg to collect samples of an asteroid and these samples need to come from somewhere. Are the gallery staff at Deichtrorhallen playing along? Or have they added a special ‘no floor penetration’ clause to the contract?

A photo of the hole in the floor of the park avenue armory after Tom Sachs' Space Program.

Photo: Karl Hab

Originally written for the Sachsian Syndicate.

Previously: TGIM 28 - And this perspective is unique – no one else will perceive that work exactly the same as you. Sure, your viewpoint may have a lot of overlap with others, but it’ll be coloured by your own unique experiences…