The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents Will Rogan / MATRIX 253. For Rogan’s first solo exhibition in a museum, the artist has created a new body of work “where mystery, banality, finality, and beauty are all entangled in one another,” according to exhibition curator Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator at BAM/PFA. These new works, primarily taking the form of photography, sculpture, and video, explore various time scales—past, present, and future—as manifested in common objects.
Rogan received his M.F.A from UC Berkeley in 2006, and since then has exhibited widely both locally and internationally. Many of Rogan’s varied interests coalesce in MATRIX 253, which engages several motifs he has revisited in his work over the past decade. For Picture the Earth spinning in space (2014) Rogan rephotographed an image from an earlier work of a sewer cover that was painted over and over again. The new photograph, updated in black-and-white, obscures the paint colors that marked the passage of time in the earlier work, and instead becomes a signpost of time’s accrual in the artist’s own work.
In Negative (2014), Rogan appropriates a cheap plastic film camera that TIME Magazinesent out to its subscribers in the 1980s. Rogan has reversed the original design and shape, transforming the camera into a negative of itself, with the letters TIME rendered in reverse—another instance of time as a shifting, illegible construct. This sense of upended order, or of an understanding of time that looks both forward and backward, also informs Rogan’s photographs of a reversed one-foot ruler made by his daughter. The numerals on the ruler—one through twelve, running from right-to-left rather than left-to-right—call attention to our desire, or need, to quantify and regulate the world around. The backwards ruler, like the inverted camera, shows the glitch in the system, where a personal, subjective ordering threatens to undermine a prevailing structure.
The exhibition concludes with Rogan’s slow motion video of an old white hearse exploding. Rogan here 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.
About the Artist
Will Rogan was born in 1975; he lives and works in Albany, CA. He received an M.F.A. from the University of California, Berkeley (2006), and a B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute (1999), in addition to attending the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (1998). Rogan’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Laurel Gitlen, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco; Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp; the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center, Atlanta; Misako and Rosen, Tokyo; and Diverse Works Project Space, Houston. Selected group exhibitions include: Reactivation: The 9th Shanghai Biennial, Shanghai; When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes: A Restoration / A Remake / A Rejuvenation / A Rebellion, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; Terrain Shift, The Lumber Room, Portland; Fifty Years of Bay Area Art: The SECA Awards, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (SFMOMA); Light in Darkness, Western Bridge, Seattle; Walking Forward-Running Past, Art in General, New York; and 2010 California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach. He is the recipient of a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship (2004) and of SFMOMA’s SECA Art Award (2003).
The MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art introduces the Bay Area community to exceptional work being made internationally, nationally, and locally, creating a rich connection to the current dialogues on contemporary art and demonstrating that the art of this moment is vital, dynamic, and often challenging. Confronting traditional practices of display and encouraging new, open modes of analysis, MATRIX provides an experimental framework for an active interchange between the artist, the museum, and the viewer. Since the program’s inception in 1978, MATRIX has featured artists such as John Baldessari, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, Shirin Neshat, Nancy Spero, and Andy Warhol. In recent years MATRIX has embraced a greater international scope, with the roster including Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Peter Doig, Omer Fast, Tobias Rehberger, Ernesto Neto, Rosalind Nashashibi, Tomás Saraceno, Mario Garcia Torres, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, representing countries as diverse as Finland, Germany, Iran, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, and many others.
Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley’s primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national, and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA’s mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”
BAM/PFA presents approximately twenty art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum’s collection of over 19,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive contains over 16,000 films and videos, including the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.