A Rock, A River, A Street

Steffani Jemison

In her experimental debut novella, A Rock, A River, A Street, artist Steffani Jemison moves deftly across narrative genres and styles as she interrogates the boundedness of the self, the possibilities of plurality, and the limits of performance. Titled after Maya Angelou’s poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” the book is punctuated by gestural drawings that point to questions of repetition and difference.

Where does your body end and the world begin? How do you locate the limit between yourself and others? A Rock, A River, A Street follows a young Black woman who lives at the hazy border between Brooklyn and Queens in the not-so-distant present. As she rides the subway, walks around her neighborhood, visits the doctor, watches movies, attends dance class, and tries to heal her body, she recalls formative experiences from her childhood and absorbs the world around her; in the process, we are brought into her conflicted relationship with language. Acutely conscious of the soft, responsive nature of her physical self, and pushed and pulled by forces she cannot control, the narrator is vulnerable, terrifyingly open. Everything and everyone leaves an impression.

Steffani Jemison’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Solo exhibitions and performance commissions include the Stedelijk Museum, MASS MoCA, Jeu de Paume, CAPC Bordeaux, the Museum of Modern Art, Nottingham Contemporary, LAXART, and the RISD Museum. Collaborative and group presentations include the Whitney Biennial 2019, MCA Chicago, CAC Geneva, ICA Philadelphia, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the New Museum, and others. Jemison is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow and an associate professor of art and design at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.

154 pages
4.75 x 7.18 inches
Edition of 2000
Summer 2022
ISBN: 9781736534663

Editor: Rachel Valinsky
Designer: Pacific
Copy Editor: Mayra A. Rodríguez Castro