Chitra Ganesh: Artist Talk

Cartoon of a woman in a gold suit of body armor with a gold crown in front of a starry dark sky and city of gold, blue, and purple.

Still from Metropolis (2018), digital animation. image / courtesy of Rubin Museum of Art, David De Armas Photography.

Chitra Ganesh's drawing-based practice brings to light narrative representations of femininity, sexuality, and power typically absent from canons of literature and art. Her installation, animation, prints, and drawing take historical and mythic texts as inspiration and points of departure to complicate received ideas of iconic female forms. Ganesh's studies in literature, semiotics, and social theory have been critical to a steady engagement with narrative and deconstruction that animates her work. Her vocabulary draws from surrealism, expressionism, mythic iconographies, and pictorial forms such as Kalighat and Madhubani painting, connecting these with contemporary mass-mediated visual languages of comics, science fiction, news photography, and illustration. Since 2004, Ganesh has maintained a long-term collaboration with Mariam Ghani as Index of the Disappeared, an experimental archive of detentions, deportations, and human erasures, as well as a public platform for dialogue on related issues.

Ganesh has had solo presentations at MoMA PS1; the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Brooklyn Museum; Göteborgs Konsthall, Sweden; and most recently at Rubin Museum and The Kitchen in New York City. Her work has been exhibited nationally at the Queens Museum, Berkeley Art Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and Baltimore Museum; and internationally at Fondazione Sandretto, Italy; Kunsthalle Exnergrasse, Austria; EVAM, Spain; and Kunstverein Gottingen, Germany. In South Asia, her work has been shown at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi; Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai; Bhau Dai Lad Museum, Mumbai; Travancore Palace, New Delhi; and Dhaka Art Summit at Shilpakala Academy, Bangladesh; and will be included in the 2018 Kochi Muzuris Biennial. She is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts in 2012, a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant in 2017, and a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts from 2017–18, among others. Ganesh received her B.A. from Brown University and M.F.A. from Columbia University in 2002.

Ganesh is the spring 2019 Teiger Mentor in the Arts.