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Hanes Visiting Artist Lecture: Chitra Ganesh

October 28, 2014 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

In conjunction with:

October 9-November 7, 2014: JOHN AND JUNE ALLCOTT GALLERY, Chitra Ganesh
Reception following lecture

The John and June Alcott Gallery is pleased to present Phantom Worlds: Chitra Ganesh, a solo exhibition of the artist’s works across media. On view during this exhibition will be Haunted Documents, a a collaborative series of mixed media works by Chitra Ganesh and artist Christopher Myers, as well as Ganesh’s animation and digital collage. The works on view take up themes of bodies in transformation, negotiating the liminal space between everyday and otherworldly experience. Ganesh will also give a talk as part of the Hanes Visiting Artist Lecture Series.

Based on photographic documentation of spirit mediums, séances and ectoplasm (pseudo-scientific term for spiritual matter) popularized in the 1920s and 1930s, Haunted Documents explores the roots of photography as a doorway to other worlds, recording the ephemeral and the liminal, archiving experiences of spiritual and geographic crossroads.  Chitra Ganesh and Christopher Myers reference contemporary languages of magical realism such as Ben Okri’s Famished Road and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmi, as well as the filmic anthropological languages of Maya Deren and Katherine Dunham. The images live at their own crossroads, locating paranormal possibilities in the urban everyday, compromising the ‘documentary’ surface of the photograph with sculptural elements, and seeking an alternative truth value in that compromise. The artists combine large format photographic prints and material interventions that fracture and extend the dialogue about spirituality, anthropology, surface, and document.

Haunted Documents: Thanu and Rage | 2012 | 24 x 24 inches | mixed media including beetle wings, feathers, brass chains
Haunted Documents: Thanu and Rage | 2012 | 24 x 24 inches | mixed media including beetle wings, feathers, brass chains

Rabbithole is a short animation presenting hand drawn imagery with fragments of vintage comics to narrate the story of bodily trangressions, dissolution and ultimate transformation in cyclical, mythic time.  The work reimagines typical mythic tropes, such as a feminist reworking of the hero’s journey. Both Rabbithole and Tightrope draw inspiration from Amar Chitra Katha, a popular Indian comic series for children of historical and mythic tales from the South Asian Subcontinent.  In Ganesh’s comic based digital collage work, abject imagery and disjunctive relationships between image and text subvert traditional storytelling forms, offering new expressions of conflict, desire and power.

Rabbithole | 2010 | 3 minutes Animation | After Effects Jaime Ekkens | Music: Karsh Kale
Rabbithole | 2010 | 3 minutes Animation | After Effects Jaime Ekkens | Music: Karsh Kale

Chitra Ganesh is a Brooklyn based artists whose drawing, installation, and collaborations are inspired by buried narratives and marginal figures typically excluded from official canons of history, literature, and art. She is widely recognized for her experimental use of comic and large-scale narrative forms to communicate submerged histories and alternate articulations of femininity to a broader public.

Ganesh draws from a broad range of material, including the iconography of Hindu, Greek and Buddhist mythology, 19th century European portraiture and fairytales, archival photography, and song lyrics, as well as contemporary visual culture such as Bollywood posters, anime, and comic books. Using a process of automatic writing, she probes this visual and textual material to connect seemingly disparate narratives, and reveal uncanny moments of absence and buried desire. Fragments of poetic language cohere with her visual iconography to produce nonlinear narratives of “unforeseen desire and untimely loss, ” offering audiences untold tales from both collectively imagined pasts and distant futures. By layering disparate materials and visual languages, Ganesh asks her viewers to “seek and consider new narratives of sexuality and power.” In this process the body becomes a site of transgression and transformation, both social and psychic, doubled, dismembered and continually exceeding its limits.

An endowment established in 1983 through the generosity of Nancy and Robin Hanes supports the Art Department’s Visiting Artist Series. This important program brings both established and emerging artists to campus to discuss their work in public lectures and to offer individual critiques to our M.F.A. students.  The Hanes Visiting Artist series greatly enriches both our academic programs and our outreach to the wider community.  All lectures are free and open to the public.

Admission: Free

Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm


October 28, 2014
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Cary Levine