Image: Inside the launch of Tom Sachs Space Program: Rare Earths at Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Featured in designboom

Inside the launch of Tom Sachs Space Program: Rare Earths at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

24 September 2021

by Sofia Lekka Angelopoulou 


artist tom sachs, winner of THE DESIGN PRIZE 2021 in the category ‘in the artistic realm’, receives the golden madonnina at deichtorhallen hamburg and walks us through his latest exhibition, ‘space program: rare earths’. designboom traveled to the german city to celebrate the opening of sachs’s fourth space exploration, following the one to the moon at gagosian (2007), mars at the park avenue armory (2012, more here), and jupiter’s icy moon europa at the yerba buena center for the arts (2016, more here); and witness first hand the live demonstration that took place on saturday, september 18.

in ‘space program: rare earths’, sachs’s astronauts head on a hand-crafted mission to 4-VESTA, the brightest and closest asteroid to earth, with one goal: to harvest the protoplanet’s rare earth minerals, needed to perpetuate earth’s addiction to technology. together with his team of sculptor-astronauts, the artist has transformed the deichtorhallen’s impressive hall of contemporary art into an interactive landscape featuring original sculptures and bricolage works. all that is necessary for survival is engineered from plywood, cardboard, resin, screws, tape, and paint and other tools of their trade.

in the video above, tom sachs receives THE DESIGN PRIZE 2021 golden madonnina, and accompanies us through his latest interstellar mission, showing us all major features of the ‘space program: rare earths’.



‘it’s been many thousands of years that we’ve learned not only to control fire, but to achieve global telepathy (through our hand held devices), but at some cost,’ says tom sachs during our tour at the deichtorhallen hamburg. ‘today we go to other worlds to get more earth elements and gold to feed our addiction.’ on display from september 19, 2021 to april 10, 2022, ‘space program: rare earths’ immerses visitors in an expansive sculptural landscape of more than 3,000 sqm consisting of bricolage works bearing sachs‘s distinct aesthetic.

like in the previous space explorations, the hamburg exhibition offers areas where visitors can interact, including ‘indoctrination’, where they are given the opportunity to join the space program. willing participants prove their worth through a series of tasks and questions to earn the exclusive right to visit areas open only to those who complete the program successfully. the exhibition brings together familiar equipment from past missions, such as the mobile quarantine facility, the space suits and the landing excursion module (LEM), and new installations such as ‘transubstantiation’. there, visitors become part of a studio-made ritual that includes submitting your mobile device in an alchemist’s lab adorned with the striking spires of the chartres cathedral.

designboom had the chance to attend the live demonstration of ‘space program: rare earths’ on saturday, september 18, 2021. the audience sat on folding chairs, each of which individually screen printed with the NASA logo and hand labeled with a hero’s name from personalities who are inspirational to the artist. throughout the entire day, sachs and his crew brought to life the program’s flight plan, starting from the astronauts’ preparations, to launch, lift off, and landing to 4-VESTA; followed by a series of stopovers before returning to earth. see more images of the exhibition and live demonstration in the gallery below.

project info:

name: space program: rare earths

artist: tom sachs

location: deichtorhallen hamburg

duration: september 19, 2021 – april 10, 2022

THE DESIGN PRIZE is an annual award program that celebrates excellence on a global scale. initiated in 2017 and curated by designboom, with patronage by the city of milan, THE DESIGN PRIZE recognizes both the extraordinary achievements and little sparks of beauty and delight that have emerged over the past 12 months.

Inside the launch of Tom Sachs Space Program: Rare Earths at Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image