Sarah Goffman transforms the prosaic, the banal and the mundane. In the way of a latter day alchemist she turns cloned plastics and packaging, the discards and neglected items of consumerist, throwaway cultures into unique, decorative objects of desire. The repurposing and hand fashioning is apparent in the wry but apposite title, ‘new digital media” given to her latest group of works.
She has been working with plastic and collecting and reinterpreting everyday items for over twenty years and immersing herself in Asian cultures, particularly in Japan. Since 2009 she has undertaken artist residencies under the auspices of Asialink and the Australia Council and worked and exhibited with contemporary artists. Many of her works are a fusion of Asian and Australian sensibilities she describes as “…being derivative of a Silk Road ethos, via China and Japan to Australia, of taking found objects or discarded materials and transforming them into beautiful and precious things.”
Sarah Goffman’s approach can be likened to a form of visual Chinese Whispers. A shelf installation of line drawings in blue marker pen on Mylar, was conceived for this exhibition while leafing through a Japanese digital technology catalogue. One panel suggests a computer motherboard, but it and other of the drawings are all traced in the style of blue and while Willow Pattern ceramics and Chinoiserie textiles. A lo-fi video, a painterly, scanned video-scape of merged and blurred surfaces, some shiny some matte, all rich reds, is shot in the streets of Sydney. But this abstract vision is greatly distanced from the detailed and articulated assembly line engineered machinery and sleek commercial advertisements for the ultimate consumer object of desire that is the red car.
Sarah Goffman’s practice spans, painting, drawing, sculpture, video and performance. Integral to all aspects is the philosophical conundrum of “When does one thing cease to be itself and become another?” Her assemblages describe an historical materialism and a legacy of visual exchange across cultures marked by an underlying quiet but potent and subversive irony.