For Will Rogan's first solo exhibition in a museum, the artist debuts a new body of work, including photographs, sculpture, and video, that explores various time scales-past, present, and future-as manifested in common objects. In this group of works one finds mystery, banality, finality, and beauty all productively entangled in one another.
Rogan received his M.F.A. from UC Berkeley in 2006, and has exhibited widely both locally and internationally. For Picture the Earth spinning in space (2014) Rogan rephotographed an earlier picture he took of a sewer cover that was painted over and over again, with each repainting revealing the rotational shifts of the cover. The new photograph, remade in black and white, obscures the legibility of the image once marked by the bright yellow street paint. In its new iteration it becomes a signpost of time's accrual in the artist's own work, since the first photograph was last exhibited in San Francisco ten years ago.
For the sculpture Negative (2014), Rogan remakes a cheap plastic film camera that TIME Magazine sent out to its subscribers in the 1980s. Yet, he reverses the original design and shape, transforming the camera into a negative of itself, with the letters TIME reversed, presenting another instance of time as a shifting, illegible construct. This sense of upended order, or of a system reflected back on itself, is also apparent in Rogan's two photographs of a reversed one-foot ruler made by his daughter, where the numerals read from right to left instead of left to right.
The exhibition concludes with a video (commissioned by BAM/PFA) that Rogan staged and filmed of an old white hearse exploding in extreme slow motion. Here the artist transforms the destruction of a universal symbol of death into a transcendental imagistic effect, revealing the usually invisible minutiae of the event. "To show the death of this object in a beautiful way," the artist says, "is to suggest that beauty and tragedy are muddled, that inside everything is a kind of pragmatic operating system, and magical incomprehensible beauty."
Will Rogan / MATRIX 253 is organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.