Traces of many books mask themselves inside Gretchen E. Henderson s Galerie de Difformite. With the head of a novel and the body of a poem, this extraordinary work interrogates the nuanced concepts of ability/disability, voyeurism/exhibition, deformity/normality all with a wry sense of self-representational humor.
A lineage that bequeaths mysterious relics to an unsuspecting recipient, led through a textual labyrinth by Bea: a deformed reincarnation of Dante s muse.
The story-within-a-story takes shape through the mysterious Undertaker a perhaps reanimated-yet-disabled Beatrice, intertwined with the contemporary Gloria Heys and the presumed publisher, Gretchen E. Henderson.
An infamous brotherhood called Ye Ugly Face Clubb. Lushly designed with crowdsourced images, text deconstructions, and enough narrative tomfoolery to make Tristram Shandy blush, the Galerie is both funhouse and curiosity cabinet, art catalogue and choose your own adventure.
This bestiary of the novel-as-poem-as-essayas- art grows outside of the bounds of the Book and, in the process, redefines deformity for the digital millennium.
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Gretchen E. Henderson received the 2010 Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer s Residency Prize for Galerie de Difformite and recently was awarded a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship from MIT.
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