3–4 minute read, or the time it takes to steep a cup of tea.
Through her interdisciplinary practice, Renee Gladman explores the seams of seemingly disparate mediums to reveal their shared lexicon. Her preoccupation with betweenness — of form, space, texture — elides categorization. In the following experimental Q&A, she responds to questions about her novel approach with writing that looks like drawing and vice versa. Fittingly, there are many ways to “read” them.
BY RENEE GLADMAN
[ID: Thick charcoal markings gather like cursive in an unknown language, interrupted at the top by white looping gestures. A row of peach orbs, faintly outlined, tilts down and to the right. Two intricate white ladders are etched in the charcoal markings like bridges. A dark green line like a knotted string stretches from the lowest peach circle, forming a faint lower boundary.]
[ID: Two thick saffron lines curve toward one another like parentheses, enclosing soft-edged light cerulean rectangles and a stack of curving dark green markings. Outside the parentheses on the left is another rectangle, larger, with two knotted green lines coming off from the bottom, and another to the left with two nodes marked with p and pp. A messy peach circle with a clean outline, an outline with no color; a linden green circle summits the parentheses as though about to roll off.]
[ID: An abstract diagram of three orbs: sea foam, linden green, a smaller one in cerulean. Lines bisect the circles, moving up and across; arrows curve off to the right. Faint etchings of looping cursive hover on the top left with a line over the top like a border. On a line bisecting the sea foam orb is the word “cello.” Floating off to the right: a cryptic math problem.]
[ID: A two-runged peach ladder hovers between a saffron yellow orb and a smaller sea foam orb. Green knotted lines curve from the ladder to the yellow orb. Cursive markings lie beneath the shapes like a caption.]
[ID: Two green orbs placed at the top of the page establish the left and right boundaries of the drawing. Between them, broad, swooping lines in the same green cascade down the page. These swoops suggest writing and brushwork. Charcoal markings and thinner white markings follow the green swoops, sometimes overlapping, and break off midway down. The white markings, which also resemble writing, overlap the green but also venture beyond into the blank of the page. A yellow saffron line, somewhat long and rectangular, leans against an arrow that curves downward. Directly above the yellow saffron rectangle, moving along the same diagonal pointing toward the green swoops, is a thin, white ladder.]
[Renee, an African-American woman with dark locks pulled up into a knot at the top of her head, graying at the temples, adorns a denim shirt, closes her eyes, and throws her head back in mirth.]
She // Her // Hers
Renee Gladman is a writer and artist preoccupied with crossings, thresholds, and geographies as they play out at the intersections of poetry, prose, drawing and architecture. She is the author of thirteen published works, including a cycle of novels about the city-state Ravicka and its inhabitants, the Ravickians—Event Factory (2010), The Ravickians (2011), Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge (2013) and Houses of Ravicka (2017)—as well as two collections of drawings, Prose Architectures (2017) and One Long Black Sentence, a series of white ink drawings on black paper, indexed by Fred Moten (2020). Plans for Sentences, an image/text-based work about future lines and future spaces, is forthcoming from Wave Books in 2022. Recent essays and visual work have appeared in The Paris Review, Gulf Coast, Granta, Harper’s, BOMB magazine, e-flux and n+1. She has been awarded fellowships, artist grants, and residencies from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Lannan Foundation, and KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), among others, and is the recipient of a 2021 Windham-Campbell prize in fiction.