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Tom Sachs' Space Camp

NYC's Governor's Island is transformed into an art-installation-meets-obstacle-course to celebrate the NikeCraft Mars Yard 2.0

by Josh Rubin
on 08 June 2017

Part film screening, part art installation and part obstacle course, Space Camp is a true marriage of art and fitness. Presented as a look into the routines that members of Tom Sachs' studio go through on a regular basis, the experience is set in a warehouse on Governor's Island in NYC. After watching "The Hero's Journey," a new film by Sachs and Van Neistat, guests complete a series of mental and physical challenges along a course designed in a Sachs-ian aesthetic. Every step has an easy or hard option and trainers along the way explain the relevance of the activity in a clear, but terse manner that feels boot camp-y. “This course, like your life, is best when quality of experience is prioritized over speed. We don’t need to rush towards the end for it will surely be upon us. Savor the moment. You have only one shot. So make it count,” shares Sachs. Open to the public today and running through 18 June, (registration is required), completing the course is a fun art activity unto itself, but it also unlocks early access to purchase a pair of the NikeCraft Mars Yard 2.0 sneakers Sachs designed. The comfortable, retro vibe and NASA-inspired sneakers are a re-engineering of the originals designed for the glorious 2012 "SPACE PROGRAM: MARS" exhibition at the Park Avenue Armory.

Previewing Space Camp yesterday, our experience began with the creation of an identification badge made using a foam-core and glue gun constructed camera set-up only Sachs could conceive. Now adorned with proper credentials we proceeded in tot he theater to watch the 40-minute "The Hero's Journey," which traces the transition from internship to master artisan in the studio.

The brilliant film skirts the line between reality and fiction such that we were both intrigued and mortified about the indoctrination to the world of Sachs. Following the journey of a "street scum" intern as she dedicates the time and energy to become a master, we watch her journey from "The Ordinary World" to the "Extra Ordinary World" and back across 13 distinct chapters. Beyond entertaining, the film also brings us inside the artist's cluttered and chaotic, yet eerily organized NYC studio.

From there we geared up in Nike athletic pants, a Sachs-designed Nike + NASA T-shirt and a pair of NikeCraft Mars Yard 2.0 sneakers and set out on to the obstacle course. Having just watched the film, we're met with a mix of curiosity and hesitation. Sachs joins us at the outset with a warm welcome. Excitement, of course, triumphs and the confidence that Nike isn't going to let anyone get hurt comforts.

The course is truly a marriage of art and fitness where the visitor has to complete a series of challenges. (Be sure to check out the slideshow above.) Laid out in a maze such that you can't see anything besides the task at hand, the first challenge is a rope climb (or ladder climb for the "easy" option). From there we moved between eight other areas including activities ranging from penciling a precise line on a Sol Lewit-inspired wall drawing, to lunging and hurdling across a room that ends with a slide across the hood of a pick-up truck.

Register for Space Camp online. Several sessions are yet to open, but places are limited. For those who complete the obstacle course, the Mars Yard 2.0 will be available for early-access purchase.

Images by Josh Rubin

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