Sarah Stein

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  • Five Coloured Suns, installation

  • Five Coloured Suns, detail

  • Five Coloured Suns, detail

  • Five Coloured Suns, detail

  • Five Coloured Suns, detail

The Space Between (Five Coloured Suns), 2014

Copper, cotton, paper, ink, thread, dye, chalk, orange

I once misheard a phrase, and found the mistaken words so beautiful that I immediately wrote them down. I knew at once what they meant, so perhaps they were not misunderstood at all. These words, rising from the depths of my unconscious, clinging like remoras to the syllables of the words spoken, were delivered and transformed by some trick of perception, arriving in my ears as five coloured suns.

Everything that seduces us most insistently - to follow, to think, to see anew and to be overcome by wonder - beckons to us from the space between. Desire is the space between what we want and what we have. The sublime is the space between what we can see and what we can perceive at the outer limits of beauty. Every relentless hope exists in an unknowable state of possibility or futility within the fathomless ether of the space between where we are and where we are going. When I heard five coloured suns, something occurred between utterance and understanding. The space between is the nothingness where everything happens.

The space between is fecund with absence. Like a black hole, it emits a kind of radiation, or ideas like five coloured suns. What can exist between these words and what they signify, the limits of language and images, and their interpretation as signs? I understood these words as the colour of stars of varying temperature, the spectra indicating different stages of life and death. I thought of a friend, an astronomer who studies the age of stars. I imagined our own Sun, as it passes through its life, and our presence or absence as it changes from one colour to the next. I imagined five galaxies spinning in the glow of their coloured stars. I imagined the time and space between the epochs of the Sun, which seem nearly infinite compared to my own smallness, and the smallness of all that seems so presently important. I imagined the colour of the Sun as a signifier of times that would never be seen by human eyes, beyond our own time that is both hyper-aware of and deliberately blind to its precarity. I closed my eyes and saw the colours behind them, each colour connected to a time of my own life. We each develop our own vocabulary, a lexicon that grows and begins to make sense over time. An orange to me is an orange of memory, to a place and time, to a person with the brightest eyes and a basket full of oranges, one of them just for me. The blue is the Sardinian sea, and making flags with a friend, using light-sensitive dye under a Sun so hot we could not work until late in the day. Red flows from the fingers of my mother. The thread that is nimble in her hands feels clumsy in mine.