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TO NOV. 28
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Gil Garcetti came to national attention as the Los Angeles district attorney who prosecuted the murder case against O.J. Simpson. Now, after returning to private life, Garcetti has assembled not one but two books based on photographs he made of the new, Frank Gehry–designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Garcetti’s images—roughly 100 of which are on display at the National Building Museum—document both the careful construction of the long-awaited building and its swooping finished form. (An untitled piece is pictured.) His photographs, all inky blacks and blank whites, are perfectly competent, but not as revelatory as he or his handlers would lead us to believe. The photographer does shine some deserved light on the dangerous work required to make Gehry’s computer-aided vision a reality—Garcetti, to his credit, made many of his images by climbing the skeletal structure alongside professional ironworkers. The resulting works recall the stunning ’30s-era images of Lewis Hine and Margaret Bourke-White, both of whom daringly documented the construction of skyscrapers in New York City. As for the finished building, Garcetti’s sinuous pictures call to mind Edward Weston’s famous photographs of sand dunes. Still, it’s not much of a feat to portray a beautiful object beautifully; a real test of Garcetti’s photographic chops would be making the jammed-up Santa Monica Freeway look just as gorgeous. The show is on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, to Sunday, November 28, at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $5 (suggested donation). (202) 272-2448. (Louis Jacobson)