Monday, July 15, 2002

Interstitial Arts

Last weekend, I sat in on a planning session for a summer institute on Intersitial Arts -- work (especially literary work) that leaps over or defies genre boundaries.

A book is a "magical realist Victorian biography in the guise of a mystery novel." A painting is "symbolist Renaissance surrealism." Music performed on sitar and digeridoo is "Afro-Celtic-punk." What all these different art forms have in common is their resistance to easy definition, to niche-labeling by either marketers or critics. -- Endicott Studio

The interstitials suffer first, they think, from lousy marketing: people don't know where to put their work, or on which shelf customers who want it should look. Then again, they suffer from critics who are too dense to see the interstices, or too focused to see the opportunities. Lazy editors make things worse, of course, by tolerating and even encouraging bad criticism.