Reviews of Tom Sachs' "Nutsy's" in the Deutsche
McDonald's, Le Corbusier, a sculpture park, and
racecars – in Tom Sachs' installation
Nutsy's, which was on
show at the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin from 7/24 through 10/12/2003, the
usual boundaries between "high" and "low" were dissolved. Yet did the
American artist's first one-person exhibition in Europe really just
consist of harmless Pop, or was there more to it?
"Model-building, loud noise, racecar driving: it's all about boy's art
here again, of course. At least it doesn't tear the world apart for a
change, but promotes insight and good spirits" is Peter Richter's praise
in the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
"It's a model of the world that once launched into the future with its
white cement villas and then, for the most part, became stranded beneath
the cement of wind-swept highway access bridges – happily seen from a
car perspective and hence utterly unsentimental."
a great hobby builder before God – and the motifs he cites are central
archetypes of the departing modern age, which he confronts with elements
of global post-modernism,"
writes Johannes Wendland in the Handelsblatt. "Whereas Modernism
was still a serious (grown-up) matter, the (childish) urge to play has
since come to dominate things exclusively. Sachs himself clearly prefers
the latter. So now we're allowed to play in the museum. Sachs'
installation lives, it's a variable location for special events of every
kind, one can wander through it, admire it – the only thing one can't do
is overload it with interpretations groaning under the great weight of
In the Tagesspiegel
, Christina Tilmann
compares Tom Sachs' "hobby building in love with detail" to the model
works of the Swiss artist duo Fischli & Weiss, the installation
Hell by the Chapman brothers, and the "colorful, fantastic high-rise
structures made of glue boxes and other rubbish that the African artist
Bodys Isek Kingelez showed at the last documenta. Connecting all of these
is an unbridled urge to slap things together, to realize ambitious
structures using the cheapest of materials, and a post-modern criticism
of civilization. The artists' capacity for improvisation questions the
flagship products of Western high-tech architecture."
Goridis of the Berliner Morgenpost also
finds Tom Sachs' installation to be anything but harmless. "In the
installation Nutsy's, named after a Jamaican bicycle store,
remote-control cars either race through an American ghetto under gunfire
or through a ‘modern park' furnished with works of art. In this way, a
playful connection is drawn between two extremes that exist in our
consciousness, extremes that determine our world and our everyday life:
the aesthetic concept on the one hand, and the economic concept on the
Tom Sachs, according to Goridis, "breaks with an art that
shows its concern; instead, he confronts the art-savvy fun society with
an intelligent mix that has to be digested, a mix that perfidiously
presents itself as an amusing game."
In Nutsy's, the
critic signed "leh." in the Berliner Zeitung
sees the urban landscape itself depicted "as a product" in which we can
read "the various stations like a testimony to the economic booms and
crashes": "illusion and disillusion alternate."
For Audrey Dejardin of Neues Deutschland, the installation
offers "a vision of the capitalist and socialist, American and European,
modern and post-modern worlds." With a mixture of "revolt and humor,"
Tom Sachs rouses our desire to criticize the conventions of the
consumerist society: "thanks to the maquettes, the Matchbox cars and
their racetrack, the films, and the video cameras filming the visitors,
Nutsy's succeeds as a staging of distortion. Our customs and habits as
seasoned consumers suddenly no longer seem so self-evident."
In the Frankfurter Rundschau, Ulrich Clewing explains why Tom
Sachs' installation goes well beyond "pure, faintly adolescent big-boy
fun": in prototypical situations, Sachs portrays the various areas of
urban everyday life: "Trade and entertainment, social representation and
criminality, goals and realities of urban planning." Clewing finds the
last issue in particular to have been solved in an interesting way.
The combination of Corbusier's
Villa Savoye and a McDonald's drive-in "might at first seem pretty
shallow. Considering, however, that Corbusier used the turning circle of
Citroen Traction as a unit of measurement for the Villa Savoye, a car that
had just appeared on the market at the time, a sensitive commentary
emerges on the idea of the car-based city: the fast food restaurant as
the logical further development of Classic Modernism." Clewing is happy
to say that it doesn't often happen "that utopias are taken out of their
lofty heights of non-commitment and forced to stand with two legs on the
ground of facts so beautifully."
Sachs: Nutsy's in the
Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin until 5th of October.