Interstitial art

Interstitial art is any work of art whose basic nature falls between, rather than within, the familiar boundaries of accepted genres or media, thus making the work difficult to categorize or describe within a single artistic discipline.

The concept of interstitiality

The word interstitial means "between spaces", and is commonly used to denote "in-betweenness" in several different cultural contexts. Architects refer to the leftover gaps between building walls as "interstitial space", being neither inside any room nor outside the building. Medical doctors have used the term for hundreds of years to refer to a space within the human body that lies in between blood vessels and organs, or in between individual cells. Television station programmers refer to any short piece of content that is neither a show nor a commercial, but is sandwiched between them, as "an interstitial".

How art can be interstitial

Take fiction as an example: If a librarian isn't sure where to shelve a book, that may be because the material is interstitial in some way, not fitting comfortably into a single, conventional literary category. For instance, when novelist Laurell K. Hamilton first began writing and publishing romances featuring vampires and fairies, bookstores faced a dilemma: How do you file these stories when you're working in a system that clearly labels one shelf for romances, a second shelf for fantasies, and a third shelf for tales of horror? There's no single, obvious answer, because such a novel is interstitial fiction, its essence residing somewhere in between the boundaries of these genres.

Or consider the performance artist Laurie Anderson: She might go onstage and sing, tell a spoken-word story, project shadow puppets on a screen, and play a hacked violin whose bow is strung with audio tape. Is she a singer, a monologist, a puppeteer, or some kind of tinkering instrumentalist? Classifying such an act as interstitial performance art would be imprecise but efficient and accurate.

The interstitial arts movement

In the mid-1990s, Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, Terri Windling, Heinz Insu Fenkl, Midori Snyder, Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, Gregory Frost, Theodora Goss, Veronica Schanoes, Carolyn Dunn, Colson Whitehead, and other American writers interested in fantastic literature found themselves commiserating over the common perception that the genre-oriented publishing industry found it difficult to market truly innovative fiction involving unusual, fantastical, or cross-genre elements—because the mainstream literary fiction field demanded stories based in realism, while the fantasy field demanded stories that mostly followed the standard conventions of sword and sorcery or high fantasy. Yet it seemed to the authors that some of the best literature was that which didn't quite fit tidily into either category but instead was being discussed in terms of more amorphous, "in-between" descriptors such as "magic realism", "mythic fiction", or "the New Weird". Further, the idea of interstitiality applied to other kinds of "in-between" fiction (unrelated to fantasy) and other "in-between" arts.

Over a period of several years, Kushner and Sherman prompted ongoing discussion about the importance of cultivating artistic "in-betweenness" led to the formulation of the broad concept of interstitial art. In 2002, literary scholar Heinz Insu Fenkl founded ISIS: The Interstitial Studies Institute at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and in 2003–04, Sherman & Kushner and some of their colleagues established the Interstitial Arts Foundation, a 501c(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to developing community and support for artists, arts-industry professionals and audiences whose creative pursuits are interstitial in nature.

Interstitial Arts Projects


In 2007, the Interstitial Arts Foundation published an anthology of interstitial fiction through Small Beer Press titled Interfictions. It features 19 stories from new and established writers in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK, and fiction translated from Spanish, Hungarian, and French. The anthology strives to "change your mind about what stories can and should do as they explore the imaginative space between conventional genres".

The anthology raised several questions and started many debates on the nature of interstitiality as applied to fiction. Reviewers raised the question of how important the definition, or lack thereof, was to understanding the anthology as a whole and the stories individually. "The 19 stories contained within Interfictions serve as examples but not as points of an argument that could lead to a listing in a Funk and Wagnalls."[1]

Though many of the stories are written by science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers and contain fantastic or supernatural elements, Interfictions is not a genre anthology. "...interstitial fiction mixes and matches these precepts—ghost stories, science fiction, nursery rhymes, detective story, whatever may be handy—as part of a variegated prism to focus on the psychology of existence even while bending its collectively recognized state. ...each 'interfiction' shares this sense of disjointed narrative, but in very different ways that do not lend themselves to easy genre categorization."[2]

Table of Contents

  • Heinz Insu Fenkl, Introduction
  • Karen Jordan Allen, "Alternate Anxieties"
  • Christopher Barzak, "What We Know About the Lost Families of ---- House"
  • K. Tempest Bradford, "Black Feather"
  • Matthew Cheney, "A Map of the Everywhere"
  • Michael DeLuca, "The Utter Proximity of God"
  • Adrián Ferrero, "When It Rains, You'd Better Get Out of Ulga" (translated from the Spanish by Edo Mor)
  • Colin Greenland, "Timothy"
  • Csilla Kleinheincz, "A Drop of Raspberry" (translated from the Hungarian by Noémi Szelényi))
  • Holly Phillips, "Queen of the Butterfly Kingdom"
  • Rachel Pollack, "Burning Beard: The Dreams and Visions of Joseph Ben Jacob, Lord Viceroy of Egypt"
  • Joy Remy, "Pallas at Noon"
  • Anna Tambour, "The Shoe in SHOES' Window"
  • Veronica Schanoes, "Rats"
  • Léa Silhol, "Emblemata" (translated from the French by Sarah Smith)
  • Jon Singer, "Willow Pattern"
  • Vandana Singh, "Hunger"
  • Mikal Trimm, "Climbing Redemption Mountain"
  • Catherynne Valente, "A Dirge for Prester John"
  • Leslie What, "Post hoc"
  • Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss, "Afterword: The Space Between"


  1. ^ Martini, Adrienne (30 May 2007). "The Go-Betweens: Writers Dismantle And Recombine Genre In Seek Of Fresh Modes Of Storytelling". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  2. ^ Soyka, David (25 July 2007). "Interfictions, edited by Theodora Goss and Delia Sherman". Strange Horizons. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2011.

External links

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Delia Sherman

Cordelia Caroline Sherman (born 1951, Tokyo, Japan), known professionally as Delia Sherman, is an American fantasy writer and editor. Her novel The Porcelain Dove won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner (born October 6, 1955) is an American writer of fantasy novels. From 1996 until 2010, she was the host of the radio program Sound & Spirit, produced by WGBH in Boston and distributed by Public Radio International.

K. Tempest Bradford

K. Tempest Bradford (born April 19, 1978 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is an African-American science fiction and fantasy author and editor. She was a non-fiction and managing editor with Fantasy Magazine from 2007 to 2009 and has edited fiction for Peridot Books, The Fortean Bureau and Sybil's Garage.Bradford is an activist for racial and gender equality both within and outside of the science fiction community. In 2005 she founded the Angry Black Woman blog, and her contributions under that moniker have appeared in Feminist SF: The Blog, ColorLines, NPR's News & Notes, and in African-American studies textbooks.

A graduate of New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Bradford is also an alumna of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and the Online Writing Workshop (formerly Del Rey). Bradford has been a juror for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She is a member of the Altered Fluid writing group in New York City.

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The term "meat pie Western" is a play on the term Spaghetti Western, used for Italian-made Westerns, relating in both cases to foods are regarded as national dishes.

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Papaveria Press

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Romanian New Wave

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Silent film

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound (and in particular, no audible dialogue). In silent films for entertainment, the plot may be conveyed by the use of title cards, written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines. The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as film itself, but because of the technical challenges involved, the introduction of synchronized dialogue became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system. The term "silent film" is a misnomer, as these films were almost always accompanied by live sounds. During the silent-film era that existed from the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, a pianist, theater organist—or even, in large cities, a small orchestra—would often play music to accompany the films. Pianists and organists would play either from sheet music, or improvisation. Sometimes a person would even narrate the intertitle cards for the audience. Though at the time the technology to synchronize sound with the video did not exist, music was seen as an essential part of the viewing experience.

The term silent film is a retronym—a term created to retroactively distinguish something. Early sound films, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, were variously referred to as the "talkies," "sound films," or "talking pictures." Within a decade, the widespread production of silent films for popular entertainment had ceased, and the industry had moved fully into the sound era, in which movies were accompanied by synchronized sound recordings of spoken dialogue, music and sound effects.

Most early motion pictures are considered lost because the nitrate film used in that era was extremely unstable and flammable. Additionally, many films were deliberately destroyed because they had little value in the era before home video. It has often been claimed that around 75 percent of silent films have been lost, though these estimates may be inaccurate due to a lack of numerical data.

Sybil's Garage

Sybil's Garage was a speculative fiction, poetry, and art journal, published by Senses Five Press. Issues one through six were released as a small press magazine, or zine. Issue seven was released in trade paperback format. The publication combines artwork with fiction and poetry for a unique aesthetic. The majority of the stories have tended toward slipstream fiction (see interstitial art), but some stories fall into traditional genres such as science fiction, fantasy, and horror fiction. Above each story is the author's suggested musical accompaniment, thus adding to the magazine's intended effect of engaging multiple senses. Sybil's Garage was founded in 2003 by Matthew Kressel and Devin Poore of Hoboken, New Jersey as an experiment in creating their own zine. In May 2007 issues one through four were entered into the permanent collection of the Hoboken Historical Museum. Issue No. 7 was pre-released at Readercon, the conference on imaginative literature, on July 9, 2010. The issue was released officially on July 21, 2010.

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