Chitra Ganesh in Conversation with Pratibha Parmar
October 24, 2017, 7 pm
Timken Auditorium, CCA SF
Chitra Ganesh was born and raised in Brooklyn and Queens, and is currently based in Brooklyn. She completed her BA in Comparative Literature and Art—Semiotics from Brown University (1996), and her MFA from Columbia University (2002). She’s received awards from NY Community Trust, NYFA, College Art Association, and the Astraea Foundation, and participated in numerous residencies including Skowhegan, Art Omi, and the Headlands Center. From 1998-2003, Chitra was a Board Member of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC). Ganesh has exhibited locally and internationally, including at The Queens Museum of Art, Bronx Museum, White Columns, Apex Art, Exit Art, Asia Society, Fondazione Sandretto in Turin, Nature Morte in New Delhi, Gwangju Contemporary Art Centre in South Korea, and ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany. Chitra is represented by Thomas Erben Gallery in New York, and Haas and Fischer Gallery in Zurich.
Feminist Artist Statement
Engaging with feminist thought allowed me to see how rigid constructions of female sexuality and gender-based power are not merely reflected, but constituted and obsessively reiterated in storytelling and visual culture. In the process I noticed that social hierarchies and codes are upheld just as frequently via the absence and repression of narratives perceived as threatening to our world order, be it between lovers or empires. And so the gaps in official history, the open fields where history and myth meet, became a central engagement in my work. These gaps and fissures are evident in seemingly benign tellings of traditional, mythological tales that are intended as cultural enrichment or entertainment for children. Such stories routinely celebrate sex and violence to tell an engrossing tale, only to ensure their repression at story’s end, insisting upon appropriate behavior and gender expression by inventing disastrous consequences that accompany any attempt to transgress social norms. At the core of my work across media is a commitment to excavating and reiterating such narratives of transgression that have been systematically excluded from the official canons of history, literaure, and art.
Pratibha Parmar is a British filmmaker, who has worked as a director, producer and writer. She is known internationally for her political and often controversial documentary film work as well as her activism within the global feminism and lesbian rights movements. She has collaborated with many well-known artists and activists, and public figures across the world. Parmar specifically uses the camera to benefit women worldwide. Focusing her lens on disenfranchised communities and peoples internationally, her contribution to worldwide humanitarian rights and education has been crucial. Her films are marked by political complexity and visual richness, taking up the themes of women’s strength, racial and cultural oppression and the lives of South Asian LBGT people. She is well known for drawing on humour, wit, women’s everyday lives and visionary storytelling to articulate the realities and dreams of feminist, lgbt women and South Asian diasporic life.
Queer Conversations on Culture and the Arts
Queer Conversations on Culture and the Arts brings together locally and nationally renowned artists, writers, filmmakers, and scholars for a series of conversations to discuss a broad range of LGBTQI topics in the humanities, architecture, design, and the arts. QCCA is an on-going collaboration between the Queer Cultural Center, California College of the Arts, and U.C. Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.