Tom Sachs Packs in Misguided Innuendoes / St. Moritz

by Hannah von Fetan

Contemporary assemblage-artist Tom Sachs leaves a putrid taste in the mouths and hearts of viewers, as he opens a new show ‘The Pack’ at Vito Schnabel Gallery in St. Moritz, Switzerland. [DEC 28, 2018 - FEB 3, 2019]

Installation View: Tom Sachs,  The Pack , 2018 - 2019. Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz, Switzerland / Left -  Switzerland  (2018) ; Right -  Flag  (2018) © Tom Sachs

Installation View: Tom Sachs, The Pack, 2018 - 2019. Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz, Switzerland / Left - Switzerland (2018) ; Right - Flag (2018) © Tom Sachs

9 January 2019

Tom Sachs Packs in Misguided Innuendoes At vito schnAbel gallery in St. Moritz

by Hannah von Fetan

Imagery aside—contemporary assemblage-artist Tom Sachs leaves a putrid taste in the mouths and hearts of viewers, as he opens a new show ‘The Pack’ at Vito Schnabel Gallery in St. Moritz, Switzerland. [DEC 28, 2018 - FEB 3, 2019]

In the exhibition, Sachs’s stated mission is to compare Swiss citizenship to a luxury good, rather than recognizing the highly regulated and specific entity that it is. His preferred method is by the inclusion of such works as Lunchbox (Natural Wood) (2018), a carved wood CHANEL handbag; however, the implied reference to the French Fashion House is reliant on viewer ignorance—there is no connection there. Swiss “luxury” is based on Timepieces and Fine Jewelry artisanship. The blatant lack of authentic Swiss culture is glaring, opting for an outsider’s gaze that usurps any artistic value or craftsmanship inherent to the artworks. The ironic use of Swiss Army Knives and Pangea of world resources drawn within the borders of the Swiss nation are ideological low-hanging fruit and the innuendoes are sub-accurate.

The artist recently made a mockery of the CH passport, mass-producing fake ones at his ‘Swiss Passport Office’ shown at Frieze Art Fair / Thaddeus Ropac Gallery in London and others around the world. He has also sold stickers that quote ‘NUKE THE SWISS’ on his website. Proving himself truly defiant, he accepted only Euros rather than Swiss Francs or British Pounds for the falsified documents. Going a step further with the opening of his new show ‘The Pack,’ Sachs took to IGTV (Instagram TV) to call the country corrupt and fascist as he hosted a livefeed preview at the gallery in the quintessentially-Swiss Engadine Valley.

In a stark contrast to his alleged “desire to remake the world not as it is, but the way it ought to be,” Sachs puts on a misogynistic and defamatory display of artworks in the home country of the subject matter upon which he focuses. The hope, presumably, being that viewers and critics of today are too oblivious or timid to make any realtime judgements on the meaning of the body of work.

If anything, Tom Sachs himself attempts to encourage corruption, normalize forgery, and incite Nuclear Destabilization. In these times, is that really the message that this world needs? In a country known as a beacon of World Peace, is there anything less timely?

I, for one, find it unbelievable that Vito Schnabel Gallery in St. Moritz, Switzerland is supporting this. Is the young gallerist even Swiss? Does he have any right to condone this? No. Do either even know what they are talking about…? Or is the silver-spoon son of celebrated artist Julian Schnabel just using the gallery as a platform to make a dig at his ex-girlfriend, Heidi Klum, in the less-than-subtle statue of the same name.

An extremely transparent deconstruction of a stylized German female, featuring a black tea bag hanging from her gendered region, ‘Heidi’ (2018) offers viewers an interchangeable taste of the blonde beauty’s feminine juices. The artwork features a bodily fluid functionality and thinly-veiled reference to her relationship to the black-British singer Seal, whom Klum dated prior to aspiring gallerist Vito Schnabel.

TOM SACHS   Heidi  (2018)  Mixed Media  88 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 20 inches  (224.8 x 80 x 50.8 cm)  © Tom Sachs

TOM SACHS

Heidi (2018)

Mixed Media

88 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 20 inches

(224.8 x 80 x 50.8 cm)

© Tom Sachs

TOM SACHS   The Pack  (2018)  Mixed Media  49 1/2 x 62 x 24 1/2 inches  (125.7 x 157.5 x 62 cm)  © Tom Sachs

TOM SACHS

The Pack (2018)

Mixed Media

49 1/2 x 62 x 24 1/2 inches

(125.7 x 157.5 x 62 cm)

© Tom Sachs

Next we find ‘The Pack’ (2018) — the exhibition’s namesake series of customized bicycles. The artworks, qualifying gang mentality, display only a brute message: BOYS LOVE TOYS.

On the walls, viewers find an array of flag and map imagery, with American Flag references overlaying the Swiss Cross. There are some truths to the parallels, but not in the corruption-crossover messaging that the artist implies. The United States has historically looked to Switzerland for democratic healthcare systems, leadership functionality (Cantons vs. States), and natural resource R&D.

It goes without saying that Switzerland’s recognized status as a symbol of World Peace is based off of the Geneva Conventions; with the balancing of four international peace treaties, the country unifies world powers and quells religious and financial strains by refereeing fair and just practices and solutions for all. Like art, this position as mediator is an ongoing work in progress and should be considered accordingly. Hollywood magnifications of the country’s banking standards overlook the need for privacy in developing nations and resolution-based business transactions—not everyone has a corner-cutting mindset or aspirational James Bond screenplay in their laptop bag.

To refute the goal of ‘The Pack’: Switzerland is not a ‘myth’ but a stabilizing arena for business and international diplomacy. The surrounding nations and world should be grateful for its stringency and ‘take only what you need’ mindset. The Swiss are a nation of heritage-focused people with a mindset towards preservation, rather than destructive development or power politics. Tom Sachs & Vito Schnabel need a history lesson and to spend a little more time in Mother Nature rather than making self-referential assemblages of their own collectible Joseph Beuys trinkets.

Perhaps Sach’s fascination in shading the nation in such a negative light comes from a machismo inferiority complex. This would align with the public persona of the gallery owner and convene the roots of the two. After all, neither are rooted in the Alps.

[DEC 28, 2018 - FEB 3, 2019 @ VITO SCHNABEL GALLERY - ST. MORITZ]

@hannahvonfetan // Arts Editor, a California & Engadine Valley native

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United States (2018)

TOM SACHS

Synthetic polymer paint, steel, plywood

48 x 48 x 1 3/4 inches

(121.9 x 121.9 x 4.5 cm)

© Tom Sachs

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Flag (2018)

TOM SACHS

Synthetic polymer paint, steel, plywood

84 x 84 x 5 inches

(213.4 x 213.4 x 12.7 cm)

© Tom Sachs