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Tom Sachs provides a tour of the Barbie Slave ship installed at the Biennale de Lyon.



00:00:00 Tom Sachs: Behold. Barbie Slave ship. Barbie Slave ship is a model of an 18th century ship of the line. The HMAS Victory which was an English ship modelled after a French warship. That was used not to transport slaves but to enforce the laws of the time.

00:00:27 Tom Sachs: In the 18th century, European countries like France and Great Britain, Portugal, Spain would bring slaves from Africa to the New World. Eventually to develop a industrial power of such great strength and virtuosity that we could even go to the moon.

00:00:53 Tom Sachs: In the 20th century we don’t exploit people’s labour, as the most valuable commodity of its time. But we exploit people’s minds and the value of our time is through advertising and consumerisim. So, we don’t have slaves of the body but we have slaves of the mind and nothing like Barbie represents this idea.

00:01:23 Tom Sachs: The three hundred or so Barbies that are in the ship are also listed in either of these two paintings. The manifest or the general arrangement and these are the women that make up the inside of my mind. The women that make up who I am. There is my beautiful wife and my mother and the first lady of the United States of America - Beyonce. And you’ll see many people there that inspire and some that might even offend. Some controversial women like Cleopatra and Lisa Simpson - the future President of the United States. It’s a TV show.

00:02:04 Tom Sachs: And there is a story behind each and everyone, if you. I ask you to maybe ask me why someone’s name is on there and I’ll tell you a story behind any one of those 300 names.

00:02:14 Man: Stanley Kubrick.

00:02:17 Tom Sachs: Is he? But he’s not on that list is he? Oh that’s a great question. Thank you. Inside the ship in addition to the 300 Barbie slaves you will see a number of tools and those are named after good bad guys and bad good guys. Stanley Kubrick is a bad good guy, great artist who is known for his exacting, precision and relentless do overs in film making and he made his cast crazy in the Shinning. And it’s in a way a part of who I am as someone who, in a way Stanley represents the perfectionist, the perfectionism within me and my team. Because this is couldn’t have been possible without my amazing studio partner. And Terry Gunnar Kabar and entire team of the Biennale to thank them but we can’t do something like this without someone pushing you a little bit. And Gunnar really pushed, is he in the room? Where is he? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

00:03:38 Tom Sachs: In addition to the tools and there are maybe sixty good bad guys and bad good guys and I’m talking guys like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. That were living in a digital renassance and these are the guys are changing the world. And you can look at someone like Bill Gates and see him as a bond villan, you don’t know clearly if he’s good or bad. Maybe a better example is Robert Oppenheimer.

00:04:15 Tom Sachs: The third element are the cannons and the cannons, those are a hundred cannons in the ship of the line. And those are real cannons, they shoot, we decided not to destroy this church, but in my studio. In fact if you go online, to, you can see some videos of us shooting the cannons in the studio.

00:04:25 Tom Sachs: My mother is one of the manifest is shooting one of the cannons and these are real cannons and why? Because a ship of the line which was not used for slaving. Even then they knew that it was a bad job - slaving. Very dangerous, even though it was illegal, they knew it was bad sort of like people who work in advertising. It’s legal now, but they know it’s wrong and they do it anyway, because it’s really well paid.

00:05:05 Tom Sachs: It was used to enforce the laws of the time, so those are hundred guns and there named after monster trucks. Which are a an iconic athletic ability of engineering in America. These disgusting vehicles that destroy other cars. It’s a magnificent spectacle of American technical virtuosity and decadence that I enjoy.

00:05:33 Tom Sachs: In the aft of the ship you’ll see the bar, should we demonstrate?

00:05:39 Woman: Sure.

00:05:40 Tom Sachs: OK, well you’ll have to join me. It’s forbidden to drink in the church? So maybe Chris Beeston.

00:06:02 Tom Sachs: Your back up. Should we all go and look at the ass cabin?

00:06:14 Tom Sachs: So, Linda asked me there are two paintings in this alcove, you’ll see it’s called the Manifest and that’s a list of three hundred and twenty four women. That are the cargo and then general arrangements in this alcove and I encourage you to spend a few minutes to look at both of these, you’ll see in addition to the list of the manifest you’ll see all the components of the ship. So if you have a question about what a clue line is you can look it up. Compare. You’ll also see all the good bad guys and bad good guys and all the tools to change the cannons and all the elements are represented in the general arrangements.

00:07:04 Tom Sachs: Well there are number of reasons, first I believe this is on the avenue of the maccabees? There is a connection with the maccabees, there is a painting. And I’m Jewish, I come from that tradition and. So there is a connection with that, and also but plus most meaningfully there is a connection more in Europe than United States of this ship and the Church. Because for many centuries, the sea has been the source of commerce and the church’s like this were built on money that came from the sea. That came from exploiting other lands.

00:07:46 Tom Sachs: Slavery is the most, emotional and meaningful one and it reached the height of the age of sea happened and concluded with slavery. But maybe that’s a reason why the anchor and the cross are synonymous in Christian mythology, there has always been an overlap. The anchor is the cross and the cross is the anchor. Both physically and metaphorically. And that’s why you’ll see some gigantic anchors on the bow of the ship. They are to scale, but if you can imagine how big they’d be. They are four metres in full scale.

00:08:27 Tom Sachs: There is also a great tradition in Europe. Arnie? What is the name of the, please help me in German.

00:08:39 Tom Sachs: And there is a word for?

00:08:43 Tom Sachs: Weltschmerz and the idea is you would, in the church you would. Weltschmerz and you would you would in a sense you would your prayers and songs would be going to the men in your life who were at sea. And many men were lost at sea and that’s why you see. Weltschmerz in Latin or French maybe it’s exvoto? And you would. Would sort of thoughts and prayers would go to the men of the sea so, there is a long connection. These are just two ideas and I’m sure there are many many others. Two that I represent and as an American, it’s important for me to show this piece in this church because it is through the African diaspora and through the horrors of slavery that we have the greatest art of the twentieth century and the greatest artist of the twentieth century which is Louis Armstong. And you laugh, but hip hop defines our age and rock music is not happened and hip hop is part of that. It’s not happened without Jazz and he defines the synthesis of America and Europe through of course Africa.

00:10:06 Tom Sachs: Let’s go look at the cyro-grog.