From the Editor’s Desk

photo by John Rash

photo by John Rash

John Rash’s exhibit at the Carrack, Chāi Qiān(拆迁): Inevitable Development, and his film, “Yangtze Drift” moved me as a citizen of a developing Durham, but moreover touched me as an ever-developing artist.

Mark Coffman and I frequently mull the importance of negative space within our work. Strunk and White’s dictum “Omit needless words” strikes the same chord for me as Gödel’s proofs on arithmetic. Some things can only be communicated by remaining unsaid.

John Rash can see this negative space and he put in on exhibit in his expressive photos and short films of “old Chongqing.” As I mentioned in a footnote the other day, gallery director, Laura Richie, told me that people inevitably gravitate toward the moving pictures. As I sat in the Carrack for an hour or two during the Durham Arts Council’s Spring Art Market, the evidence bore out her observation.

Yet for all I want to weep for the degradation of culture caused by the increase in the speed of information distribution, as Rash said in his artist’s talk, the short films convey things that the still images don’t. They are subtle. Framed like photos, the camera never moves, instead subjects move through the frame (a technique Rash also employs in tremendous effect “Yangtze Drift” ).

A minute and eighteen seconds of a stairwell and an inner courtyard shocked me as I realized the young Chinese girls on the screen are playing something very much like our local heads’ hack-y-sac. I had no idea that kids in China kicked the hack around; and shallow or not, this exponentially increases my grief at their imminent loss of their playful space.1

This grief is not artificial, even if it may be antiseptic and short-lived. In Durham, I listened to innumerable natives describe this field as their unsupervised free space.

This once was a field...

This once was a field…


But as in Chongqing, the story is nuanced. Many people, including the life-long residents, like the new Harris Teeter.



Chongqing and Durham both feature shacks and gleaming buildings separated by mere blocks.



1In another short film of closer to four minutes in length, it was several viewings before I noticed the cat that leaped between balconies above the laundry lines and far off the ground.

John Rash reminds me we live in a world of generalizations and one-off cases.

“From the Editor’s Desk”

is written by our Editor: Aaron Mandel


Clarion Content Editor Aaron Mandel, photo by Jessica Arden Photography

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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