Russell Ferguson

Russell Ferguson is the co-curator of the exhibition Damage Control – Art and Destruction since 1950, shown at Hirshorn Museum in Washington and at this moment in Mudam in Luxembourg.

Russell Ferguson joined the Department of Art in January 2007, and was chair until 2013. From 2001, he was Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs, and Chief Curator, at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, where he remains an adjunct curator. From 1991 to 2001, he was at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, first as Editor, then as Associate Curator.

He has organized many exhibitions. At the Hammer, these included The Undiscovered Country (2004), a survey of various approaches to representation in painting, as well as solo exhibitions by Larry Johnson (2009), Francis Alÿs (2007), Wolfgang Tillmans (2006), Patty Chang (2005), and Christian Marclay (2003). At the Museum of Contemporary Art, he organized In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art (1999), an exploration of the circle of artists that revolved around the poet, as well as survey exhibitions of the work of Liz Larner and Douglas Gordon (both 2001). With Kerry Brougher, he organized Open City: Street Photographs Since 1950 (2001) for The Museum of Modern Art, Oxford. Also with Brougher, he is the organizer of Damage Control: Art and Destruction since 1950 (2013) for the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.

Ferguson is the editor of two collections of critical writing: Discourses: Conversations in Postmodern Art and Culture, and Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, both published by the MIT Press. He has written about the work of many contemporary artists, including Thomas Eggerer, Olafur Eliasson, Tony Feher, Rodney Graham, Cristina Iglesias, Damian Ortega, Laura Owens, and Gillian Wearing.

MA, Hunter College, City University of New York; BA, University of Stirling, Scotland.

Ferguson tells us how the idea of this particular social related show has started. What were the choices, what were the possible alternatives, and how was the show adapted from Hirshhorn Museum in Washington to Mudam Luxembourg. Ferguson discusses the notion of art, the fact that it can be about capturing reality, as irrevocable loss, considering here the main theme of destruction, or about organising a new order from chaos, a re-creation. He gives us a vision about his work as a curator. 


ART AND DESTRUCTION SINCE 1950 (12/07/2014 – 12/10/2014)

is probably a key show, never contextualized this way. From the Luxembourgish point of vue it faces historical, social and political issues in an formal rendu of a large diversity and a impressing quality of artworks, some of them metaphysical without being necessarly philosophical, like for instance Ortiz’ performance destroying a piano, 1966, reperformed live during the opening at Mudam. 

The concept of the exhibition however, depasses the limitations of any national context. 

The exhibition could be related to some other shows and projects, which are presented right now as well. Crime in art at Mocak in Krakow (PL) or even the Isola Art Center project about Utopia (I). The confrontation through art with ontological ruptures from the past, like World War II or the atomic bomb seem to be dans l’air du temps again. Probably useful for common lucidity and for the rethinking of art, considering still instable situations as direct or indirect consequences.

Since the middle of the 20th century, destruction has played a wide range of roles in contemporary art: as rebellion or protest, as spectacle and release, or as an essential component of re-creation and restoration. Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 offers an overview, if by no means an exhaustive study, of this central element in contemporary culture. Featuring approximately 90 works by more than 40 international artists, and including painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, film, video, installation and performance, the exhibition presents many of the myriad ways in which artists have considered and invoked destruction in their process.

You can find more info about the exhibition on the website of Mudam Luxembourg.

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