Tom has a vivid introduction for the construction evidence shown in his work: “The glue drips, screw holes, cum stains and fingerprints all declare that this thing was MADE and not hatched.” In more formal settings, Tom will dial it back a little and drop the cruder stuff. Instead, he’ll borrow from the words of Alexander Calder and call this evidence the ‘scars of labour’.

Alexander Calder trained as a mechanical engineer and job-hopped before he found a home in sculpture. He created a monumental series of works that curved thick steel plates into the sky. These ‘stabiles’ are peppered with the evidence of their construction: supporting ribs, rivets, bolts. The structures appear to have been cut from the same steam boilers and iron bridges that surrounded Calder in his early career. His later arts education saw him folding these materials into new forms, like industrial origami.

Calder’s background in mathematics and engineering are etched into every scar left by his labour. Meanwhile, the construction fingerprints left by Sachs tells the story of his expertise. How do you carve your history and know-how into what you create?

Picture of Van Neistat cleaning around a foamcore stablie by Tom Sachs.

Photo: Van Neistat

Originally written for the Sachsian Syndicate.

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