Culling from his extensive and multidisciplinary background as a musician, performer and visual artist, Bogart creates a complete environment in the gallery space. Envisioned as a cross between a zine stand, backroom of a sex shop and an art exhibition, the exhibition presents a range of his early and recent painting in addition to ceramics, limited-run publications and his trademark papier-mâché objects. Rooted in a long lineage of the artist’s creative pursuits, with nods to the legacies of both punk and queer art, Bogart seamlessly blends camp with deeper connections to readymade consumer products, pop culture and the idea of the queer archive.
Bogart is known for elaborate multimedia presentations, often incorporating vividly-painted chromatic backdrops, oversized objects, video work and props that seemingly operate in the space of installation art intersecting with a children’s program television set. Given his background in punk, Bogart’s earliest engagement with visual art was at the ‘merch table’–a staple of DIY music culture with its assortment of t-shirts, zines and CDR mixtape covers, all handmade and intended for quick, easy accessibility. This fascination with readymade objects carried through to his first exhibitions, in which video, ceramics and paintings were presented as surreal installations, draws equally from John Waters, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and Warhol’s first Factory.
In this exhibition, Bogart uses the entirety of the gallery space to create an immersive, retail-like environment filled with salon-hung paintings, ceramics, papier-mâché props and a pink painted walls with logo-like signature decals. Paying homage to the gallery’s location in West Hollywood, he focuses on the idea of the queer archive–objects that form nodes of identification within queer culture, especially considering the lessened role that physical objects, code words, sex stores and club memberships now play as a result of hookup apps and social media. Plinths present an array of ceramic objects modeled after recognizable gay paraphernalia, from poppers and handcuffs, to condom wrappers, virility supplements, Truvada bottles and mascara. Similarly, the front space of the gallery is converted into a sex shop, with contemporary and historic gay magazines spanning an array of subcultures and genres to read and explore amongst more erotic ceramic objects.
Going against the dry, antiseptic presentation of artwork and curatorial intent, Bogart actively undermines the institution of the gallery setting, using lightness and camp humor to form deeper observations on mass consumer and aesthetic culture. Writing in her 1964 essay ‘Notes on Camp’, Susan Sontag observes:
Camp sees everything in quotation marks. It's not a lamp, but a "lamp"; not a woman, but a "woman." To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-as-Playing-a-Role. It is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater
Fittingly, Bogart’s embrace of theatricality in his work exposes the absurdity of much of our visual culture. As ceramics, toothbrushes become useless, and a clay whip is fragile and unintimidating. Yet it is this method of formal flattening, similar to artists like Katherine Bernhardt, that Bogart readily portrays the idea of an object rather than obsessing over its precise physical details. In so doing, he re-emphasizes the preciousness of objects, and the importance of physical culture, especially for those little trinkets and ephemera that allowed otherwise invisible communities to endure and thrive.