Vision  U n b o u n d

Curatorial Statement

—— Dene Grigar, Curator

For many years, the Electronic Literature Lab has participated in Women's History Month by amplifying the names and achievements of many women artists living and working across the globe whose art challenges us to rethink the possibilities of the digital medium and our perspective of the world. This year it is collaborating with The NEXT to take a different approach: an online exhibition, entitled “Vision Unbound,” that honors the genius of four particular women—Melody Mou Peijing (China), Amira Hanafi (Egypt), Priti Pandurangan (India), and Marisa Parham (United States).

While Women's History Month is an American event celebrated by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Smithsonian Institution, and the Library of Congress, and many other U.S. institutions, the lab has always taken a global approach, suggesting that artists do not work in a vacuum where their perspectives are limited to geo-spatial boundaries. Rather, at a time when we are fed news 24/7, libraries and databases are online, and media streams constantly on the net, our views and ideas are impacted and influenced by others. Likewise, the U. S. impacts others—many times in ways that are detrimental. Because Americans come from all over the world, our own citizens are deeply affected by conflicts and crises here and abroad. The current war in Ukraine, Israel's War on Gaza, the Iraqi-Kurdish conflict, the Israel-Lebanon border crises, drug cartels in Mexico, and violence in Equador touch us in our daily lives. Looking broadly, then, at the creativity of women—no matter where they exist in the universe—has the potential of providing a better understanding of ourselves and the world around. It can inspire. It can reveal. It can give lift to our lives.

When selecting the women and works for this exhibition among the thousands available to me from The NEXT, the Electronic Literature Collections, online journals, and various online festival sites, I focused on highly experimental approaches to structure and genre. Admittedly a long fan of visual poetry, hypertext, and mytho-politico-historical storytelling, I found myself drawn to these four innovative works by these four brilliant artists. If visitors to the exhibition notice a connection among them relating to water, such as the rippling on the interface of Mou Peijing's “At Nightfall, the Goldfish” and rain falling in puddles on the landing space of Pandurangan's "Meghadūtam," it is, therefore, not a coincidence, for water symbolizes life and rebirth in the myths of many cultures. Likewise, visitors will encounter politics of resistance performed by both Hanafi's “A Dictionary of the Revolution” and Parham's “.break .dance.”

What can we learn from these works? This exhibition shows that we are united, all of us, in the struggle for understanding, love, acceptance, and freedom. While we talk much of the human condition, this exhibition, through the presentation of these works, focuses on ways we seek to transcend it, through a "vision unbound."

I would like to thank the lab's Senior Designer, Holly Slocum, who designed and coded the archival website and created the exhibition's logo. I would also like to thank the lab's Junior Designer, Sydney Nguyen, for her work to create the announcement card and the images for the social media posts. Thank you also to Andrew Thompson, who programmed the site's interactivity and movement, and Sierra O'Neal, who created the animated banner.