Just between us

“just between us” an art experience by Sarah Goetz opens Friday at The Carrack Modern Art, 111 West Parrish Street in Durham.

Like everything at The Carrack Modern Art1, it will be here and gone quickly, showing only through Thursday, June 7th. If you can make the time in your hectic modern schedule to get there, you should. And if you feel like you can’t make the time in your schedule to get there, it is even more reason why you should.

If you can’t make it for the opening, which is Friday night at 7pm, the Carrack Modern Art is open 12pm–6pm, Tuesday through Friday and Saturdays 2pm-5pm. Goetz installation needs to be digested and absorbed for the full impact.

The artist, herself, is extremely distinguished, having graduated from Duke University, where in 2011 she won the Louis Sudler Prize in the Creative and Performing Arts, the Julia Harper Day award in Documentary Studies, the Sue & Lee Noel Prize in Visual Arts, Distinction in Arts of the Moving Image, and Highest Distinction in Visual & Media Studies.

See her work and you will believe.

However, the real interest is in the message, the nuanced feel and understanding that girds the output. Goetz is grew up in Oklahoma2 and at first blush her installation in The Carrack is surely reminiscent of a storm, perhaps a tornado gathering force. The way it is hung, the work responds to air flow, swaying as people move about it.

Goetz readily admits to the storm motif and the influence of her past. But, she is openly also operating on another level. Goetz says she has spent nearly all of her free time consumed with this event since conceiving of the installation and confirming the Carrack date nearly a year ago, just as she was graduating Duke.

The thought that went into the process is immense. As she explained it to the Clarion Content, Goetz has been making multimedia installations and film for some time. She has only more recently come to painting. The exhibit brings all three together. The theme is about emptiness, the space between, which as Goetz demonstrates, without stooping to the ironic, can be quite full.

Paraphrasing her stream of consciousness. As we sat in The Carrack, with the late afternoon light pouring through the windows, she let flow, “from seeming emptiness, one can build an interest, recognition of little irregularities…” I drift along with her.

Personally, thinking back to being a small child, I can remember my endless fascination with dust motes in sunlight. I remember how I could amuse myself for hours, chasing them about, trying to capture bits of the ephemeral, in shafts of sun, that now, in my middle decades, I walk by without a second thought, presuming them empty, ignoring the texture, the microcosmos which once held the mysteries of an entire universe.

Goetz continues her thought on perceived emptiness, “but as soon as you add color or recognizable forms or people, the empty space suddenly becomes shockingly barren.” Goetz has always been fascinated by, “the space between things,” whether film splices, silence or white canvas. She melds this theme not only to her work, but to her understanding of human relationships and interactions. She asks, “What happens when you create a closed self-sustaining existence that is suddenly interrupted by something much more beautiful, that is subsequently taken away?”

Her thought hangs in the air, neither empty, nor visible.

What is left of those white spaces, those closed lives, when a dash of color is added, then snatched back? We are left, in her words, feeling abandoned and scared. The transcendence of her art is its mating with her experiences, its reflection of the commonality of all human experience.3 One is suddenly reminded of the Pearl Jam lyrics from, “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town.” Vedder sings “…haunting, familiar, yet I can’t seem to place it…lifetimes are catching up with me…hearts and thoughts they fade…away…”

Goetz work feels hauntingly familiar, gives the aching sense of having experienced something similar. Bright color, joy, vibrancy has come into each of our lives from seemingly out of nowhere and fled again just as rapidly. The Buddhist finds momentary pleasure in a world of samsara. Yet when that moment of pleasure passes away, gone and as intangible as time passed, we are not left blank and empty. Time has passed and been experienced. The space between things has its own realm, as textured and nuanced as the colorful. Goetz refers to this reality as “the presence of absence.”

Goetz exhibit also includes a short film she made called, “For the forgotten face of my lover/the silence after a cold goodbye.” At eleven minutes with hardly a word spoken, one might be forgiven for thinking it would be impossible to follow or unreasonably dull. Hardly. Space flows, light moves, silence and shadow play, we are reminded of her caveat about the details and grains in what is seemingly plain, white, ’empty space.’

When color appears it is transformative. The process takes center stage as brush touches canvass, but we have already been shown that the void, the blank, is not as empty as it appears. She raises questions that have been beguiling philosophers from Genesis, Chapter One, Verse One. “In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the Earth. The Earth was without form and void…let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters…”

What was pre-existent? From whence come those waters? What form the void? G-d too, as detailed in the story, started with black and white, darkness and light, before dry land, vegetation, plants and fruits; and their concomitant bountiful explosion of color.4

Goetz says she drew some of her inspiration from a poem by Phillip Booth, “Relations: Old Light/New Sun/Postmistress/Earth/04421.”

The opening lines appear at the beginning of this piece, the closing lines are below.

“just between us” an art experience by Sarah Goetz now showing at the Carrack Modern Art through June 7th.

It is not to be missed.

1Coming soon our piece on The Carrack’s amazing first year.
2Though at this point she considers herself Durham through and through.
3Isn’t this why art exists?
4Let alone made animals and man; Creationism aside, a Darwinist tells the story in much the same way, unable to conceive of a existence pre-existence, the void is as incomprehensible as the infinite for both believers and non.

Aaron Mandel

Aaron Mandel is a writer and an accomplished public speaker. He is the publisher of the Clarion Content. For more than a decade, the Clarion Content has covered Durham’s arts, politics, music, and cultural milieu. From breaking news stories to the hottest local acts, the Clarion Content is on the scene. The Clarion Content published more than twenty distinguished guest columnists and garnered nearly a million views. Mandel is a volunteer for the Durham Mighty Pen Literacy Project and serves as the President of the Board of Sustain-A-Bull Durham, a local small business collective with more than 200 members. He writes regularly on the Clarion Content and has been quietly writing fiction since the 4th grade. Mandel has been published in the Raleigh News and Observer. He has also produced numerous art shows, including, “Durham under Development”. He was a featured speaker at “The State of Publishing” conference. He has presented to Durham Chamber of Commerce, “Chamber U” on the “New Media”. He has also served as the play-by-play announcer for the D.B.L., a Durham youth basketball league. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religious Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. An avid policy debater at Indiana and a Nation Debate Tournament qualifier, Mandel was also a member of the New Jersey State Champion two-person Policy Debate Team. He has lived in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, and Baja California, Mexico.

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