Get local news delivered straight to your phone
Support City Paper!
It’s a little funny—no doubt unintentionally so—that in the wake of Hirshhorn Director Richard Koshalek’s resignation in May, the Hirshhorn is gearing up for a show called “Damage Control.” Even funnier given this context are the show’s anti-art images, like Ed Ruscha’s 1968 painting of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art engulfed in flames, or documentation of conceptual art troublemaker John Baldessari cremating all of his paintings in 1970. It’s as if the beleaguered museum decided to use its galleries to send a distress signal. Of course, this show was no doubt in development years before any of the recent turmoil. Further, “Damage Control” is clearly a labor of love for Chief Curator and Acting Director Kerry Brougher, who organized the exhibition with Los Angeles curator Russell Ferguson. Brougher is an avowed fan of apocalyptic cinema, and, in a sense, “Damage Control” is really a show about Godzilla. Or at least what Godzilla stands for: fear of total destruction in the nuclear age distilled into popular imagery, art, and anti-art. From Harold Edgerton’s documentary photos of nuclear detonations in the 1950s, to contemporary artist Laurel Nakadate standing in a Girl Scout uniform as the twin towers smolder behind her on 9/11 in “Greater New York,” the show weaves together disparate images, practices, and artists, all haunted by humanity’s potential for self-destruction.