From time to time I've covered sound art shows at museums and exhibitions, but Tom Sachs' "Boombox Retrospective, 1999-2016" is my all-time favorite. I knew something was up when I spotted a pair of 10-foot tall loudspeakers flanking Sachs' "Presidential Vampire Booth" sound system dominating the museum lobby. While the funky-looking white-painted speakers weren't playing at all loud, the music was clearly having its effect on the crowd.
Tom Sachs is a New York-based sculptor, with a keen fascination for capitalism, fashion and pop culture. He uses commonplace materials such as plywood, plastic, odd bits of metal and foamcore, and all the seams, joints and screws holding stuff together are in plain view on his constructed jukeboxes. Sachs is 49, but he started DIY-ing boom boxes when he was in junior high school when he Velcro-ed a Sony Walkman and a pair of power speakers to a piece of plywood.
DJ Young Guru played a set at Contemporary Austin, at a SXSW showcase in 2015 with the Presidential Vampire Booth sound system. Indeed, Sachs' boom boxes all appear functional -- I was a little disappointed that the volume was pretty moderate, but even so the big speakers cast a spell.
Families with small children commingling with Brooklyn hipsters, teens, and Museum staff that were all grooving to the never ending run of tunes from Kool & the Gang, T-Man, Cndo, Dennis Ferrer, Soul Express, Black Coffee, Dynasty, Soul Searchers, Gil Scott Heron and so many more. The hits just kept on coming!
The "Boombox Retrospective, 1999-2016" exhibition runs through August 14, 2016 at the Brooklyn Museum. The entire show is in the museum's lobby, so you don't need to buy a ticket to fully experience Sachs' boom box extravaganza. Still, it's a big museum, so while you're there why not buy a ticket and explore? Sachs has had shows in Aspen, Berlin, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Tokyo and many other cities.
See more of "Boombox Retrospective, 1999-2016" in this gallery.