Shorn From the Black Tusk of the Great Destroyer is a group exhibition curated by Adam D Miller in tribute to, and inspired by the Godzilla film franchise. In 1954, Ishiro Honda’s film Gojira spawned a new wave of Japanese Science Fiction, and introduced the world to a monster that would eventually become synonymous with Japanese culture. Godzilla was the first in a long series o...f daikaijū monsters, or giant creatures known for Toho’s rubber suit aesthetic. In all of these films the monster plays a dual role. In the early movies he was both the destroyer of society, and also man’s greatest technological achievement; in these early films Godzilla is the antagonist fighting against the Japanese government.
As the franchise progressed new monsters were brought in for Godzilla to battle, and the creature’s role shifted; he became both the protector of Japan and also its annihilator. The role of destruction is almost as important as the monster himself in these films. Toho studios became famous for their use of miniatures in creating scenes where in whole villages and even the city of Tokyo are decimated by the violence and chaos brought on from Godzilla’s wrestling and radioactive breath. In each of the 29 films, the viewer is treated to scene upon scene of Japan being stomped into the ground, and torn apart by giant writhing beasts, and yet the film ends on a positive note. These are not natural disaster films where the destruction is devastating, instead the Godzilla pictures end happily as Godzilla defeats another monster that threatened to destroy the Earth and he swims back to his isolated sanctuary on Monster Island; in the next movie Japan is rebuilt with no mention of its previous downfall.
In these films destruction, chaos, and negation become a catalyst for rebirth, for celebration, and for creativity. As we watch Godzilla tear a sky scraper in half we cheer and hope that he’ll burn another down to ground. The artists chosen for the exhibition Shorn From the Black Tusk of the Great Destroyer all have a stake in the chaotic, the confused, the violent, or destructive, and use them as a ground for production.
Adam D Miller
*A zine style publication has been made in a limited quantity of 400 to accompany the exhibition