The first image on your left as you walk into Stay Home, Will Rogan's current show at Altman Siegel, is of a book. More specifically, it's a photograph of a 1970s-era hardback science book, open to a stunning shot of the universe. The title of the photograph, Viewing the Past as It Happens, is lifted straight from the book's text, but even without the verbage, it's evident as you walk around Stay Home that the relationship between past and present is much on Rogan's mind.
The show mixes black-and-white photographs of everyday objects, altered print ephemera, and small sculptures to create what I can only describe as a large, 3-dimensional poem about time and memory. I use the word "poetry" because Rogan gathers his images and objects together in a rhythmic manner: for instance, the universe in Viewing the Past as It Happens shows up a few beats later in the aptly named Universe Party.
True to our experience of memory, Stay Home is replete with cracks, fissures and corners, but somehow all these fragments come together to make a whole.
Best of all, in a series of new sculptures called Mediums, Rogan has pasted photos taken from old San Francisco Art Institute catalogues onto small, wooden rectangles and painted the opposite sides black. The rectangles stand next to each other in a variety of iterations, and are sold disassembled for you to rebuild at your leisure. The photos are of all the famous alumni to traipse through SFAI's halls -- which makes the title a double entendre, and potentially a chilling one, depending on your perspective. As far as I know, most of the artists featured are now forgotten.
Stay Home is an atypically cool show for this moment in San Francisco's artscape, but it wears its dueling affinities (to conceptualism and to the auratic object) well. In the space of two gallery rooms, Rogan gives us a gently nuanced model of the ways in which humanity tries to make sense of the fractures and fault-lines that extend through time.