Chitra Ganesh: Dreaming in Multiverse

February 18, 2022 - August 1, 2022
Saligman Family Atrium and Video Gallery

With an overarching interest in the possibilities of visual narratives, Chitra Ganesh draws on Buddhist and Hindu iconography, science fiction, queer theory, comics, Surrealism, Bollywood posters, and video games, combining them with her own visual imagery and drawings to present speculative visions of society in the past, present, and future. Her exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum presents a series of recent prints as well as several video animations that exemplify her practice of experimental storytelling.

Thirteen digital prints collectively titled Multiverse Dreaming will be installed in the Museum’s Saligman Family Atrium. Inspired by Amar Chitra Katha (literally Immortal Picture Stories)—a popular comic book series originating in 1960s India including tales of epic myth, folklore, and history of the South Asian subcontinent—Ganesh uses the series as a point of departure, repurposing the comic form to present nonlinear narratives that focus on themes of reflection, regeneration, togetherness, and desire in times of uncertainty. Ganesh’s interweaving of disparate visual idioms, poetic texts, and shape-shifting bodies invites viewers to consider broad utopian possibilities while also tapping into a collective memory for audiences in India and its diaspora that have grown up reading these comics. The project notably centers women, femme bodies, and queer relationships, reorienting traditional narratives around experiences and communities that have been marginalized, historically in her source material as well as in the contemporary art world.

A selection of Ganesh’s animations will be screened in the Museum’s Video Gallery, including her latest animation, Before the War (2021). Described by the artist as “an open-ended narrative of memory, love, and loss,” the visual storytelling, combined with music and lyrics by the singer and songwriter Saul Williams, probes how personal and political conflicts are often intertwined and can be bearers of profound transformation.

Chitra Ganesh: Dreaming in Multiverse is generously supported by the Siteman Family Charitable Fund. It is organized by Meredith Malone, curator.

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About the artist

Chitra Ganesh (b. 1975 Brooklyn, New York) earned a BA in art semiotics and comparative literature from Brown University in 1996. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2001 and earned her MFA in visual arts from Columbia University in 2002. Her work has been widely exhibited both nationally and internationally, including solo presentations at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York; The Kitchen, New York; Rubin Museum of Art, New York; MoMA PS 1, New York; Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum; and Gothenburg Konsthall, Sweden. She has also been represented in numerous group exhibitions, including at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California; Hayward Gallery, London; Queens Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Baltimore Museum of Art; MoCA Shanghai; Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna; and Kunstverein Göttingen, Germany. Her work is widely recognized in South Asia and has been shown in New Delhi (Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Devi Art Foundation, Travancore Palace), Mumbai (Prince of Wales Museum), and Bangladesh (Dhaka Art Summit at Shilpakala Academy).

Ganesh is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including an Anonymous Was A Woman award; Robina Foundation Fellowship, Schell Center for Human Rights, Yale University; Hodder Fellowship, Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in the Creative Arts; Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Painters and Sculptors; and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts; Printed Matter; Art Matters; and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. She is associate professor of art at Hunter College, New York. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


To request a tour of the exhibition for your class or group, please email kempereducation@wustl.edu.

Image credit

Installation view of Chitra Ganesh: Dreaming in Multiverse at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 2022. Courtesy of the artist; Hales, London and New York; and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. © Chitra Ganesh. Photo by Alise O’Brien Photography.