Selected works by Chitra Ganesh

Chitra Ganesh
Tales of Amnesia


21 C-prints

Dimensions variable
New York based artist Chitra Ganesh studied literature at Brown and painting at Columbia. For the artist, the comic book appears to epitomise and perpetuate a perverse sense of good over evil. Such scenarios are at the centre of classic Indian literature such as the Ramayana in which men and women indulge in episodes of absolute and unsolicited power. The stylised simplification of the comic book style is central to Ganesh’s work Tales of Amnesia, in which the audacious female character confronts subscribed notions of compliance in order to explore alternative models of femininity and power. By rewriting popular history, Ganesh appears to empower her character Amnesia with an opportunity to directly challenge the original fairy tale. For Ganesh, such preconceived social codes have always been heavily influenced by religion and literature and her work reconfigures these codes.
Chitra Ganesh



122 x 114 cm

Chitra Ganesh’s accomplished illustration is a wondrous scene in which reality appears to have been forsaken for something much more troublesome. Ganesh’s landscape of tranquil water is littered with female forms that appear to come directly from the artist’s imagination. Composed of vengeful double heads rooted on hands with decapitated fingers, adolescent school-girls sprouting from a tight-fitting skirt and blouse with multiple limbs and a naked figure hanging from a forlorn tree with lotus leaves and a hand; Ganesh’s vivid illustration is born of a deliberate stream of consciousness and a dream like state that very graphically challenges preconceptions of the representation of women.

Chitra Ganesh


Photographic triptych

61 x 63 .5 cm each

Chitra Ganesh’s photographic triptych Hidden depicts the artist performing bizarre acts of mutilation and mysticism. The timeless backdrop and the indecipherable objects speak of Ganesh’s interest in the symbolism of classical literature that she actively critiques in her Amnesia works. Rather than indulging in beauty and heroic drama, Ganesh exposes herself to the vulnerability of performing for the camera.

Chitra Ganesh


Digital C-print

76 x 52 cm

In Twisted the artist appears to be twisted on a bed of leaves deep in the forest, illuminated by artificial light and struggling to find her feet in a strange juxtaposition of beautifully tailored costume and contoured body parts. It becomes almost impossible to rationalise what might have happened to Ganesh’s central character and why this figure stretched out appears utterly of another world. The work references notions of the plight of women in modern India and a willingness on Ganesh’s part to refer to very classical views of women and their subservient role to men.


by chitra ganesh and Mariam Ghani

Our work draws from an ongoing inquiry into the human costs of U.S. immigration policy. We explore two key features of disappearance: the mass detentions and deportations sweeping the U.S. since 9/11/01, and the relative absence of those caught in the system from mass media and the law. By proposing new terms to tell these stories of disappearance and loss, our works aim to intervene in how narratives of detention and deportation are presented on all sides of the immigration debate.

Media stereotypes and the abstract language of the law further obscure the struggles and conditions of people impacted by detention and deportation. As a result, the urgency of generating a collective history of individual disappearances lies at the heart of activist initiatives addressing the crisis.

As we were exploring this issue, we noticed that much of the advocacy work around detention and deportation occurs within the structures of the courtroom or nightly news broadcast, and so these narratives risk being subject to the very codes and language they seek to contest. For example, the recurring use of testimony, statistics, and expert witnesses in activist documentaries about detention and deportation recalls courtroom dynamics, and reiterates the pundit-driven rhythms of network news such as CNN and Fox.

Our work departs from this idea, that individuals are disappeared for a second time in the scarce and troubling visual representation offered as their history by mass media, political debates, and the law.

Seeing the Disappeared exists in continual tension between collaborating with the activist movement towards a collective history, and using a different visual language to reconsider the terms and depth of that collective history.



I like the title of the Asia Society's latest, and possibly best, foray into contemporary art. 'One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now, borrows a familiar colloquialism for go-it-alone ingenuity and persistence under pressure, not bad qualities for a young artist. The phrase is also the title of the 1978 punk standard by Blondie, and thus linked to a bouncy rant that Deborah Harry, the group's slinky lead singer, delivered with a rebellious feminist snarl.

Which relates to a signal aspect of 'One Way or Another': 12 of the 17 artists are women. That is 71 percent, which some people may want to attribute to the show's all-female curatorial team. Don't bother. The quality of the work speaks for itself. Furthermore, the unusual gender imbalance seems to be merely the byproduct of the largely successful pursuit of another goal: to survey the diversity and fullness of Asian-American art today, a generation after the first waves of multiculturalism and identity politics broke across the art world in the wake of the liberation movements of the late 1960's and early 70's.