Rabbithole uses the visual language specific Ganesh’s comic works to refigure the hero’s journey & transformation, a principal story line that often grounds fairy tales and myths. The work refers to iconic myths and folklore such as Alice in Wonderland, the Odyssey, and the Mahabharata. In Rabbithole, the protagonist’s moves beyond conventional mythic narratives of conquests over evil and saving women from ruin, to consider a cyclical journey through our material world that mirrors and catalyzes psychic transformation.
After Hell is a video made in collaboration with artist Simone Leigh. “In the video installation, My dreams, my works must wait till after hell… (2011), the title of which derives from a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, a nude female torso is featured lying on her side. Her breathing is amplified both aurally and psychologically as viewers see her ribs expand and contract with each breath, her head obscured under a stack of stones. The video, accompanied by a soundtrack by Kaoru Watanabe, plays with scale, with the torso occupying much of the frame and resembling a mountain buttressed by stones. Against expectations, while the stones weigh like an elaborate headpiece on the most vulnerable part of the body, the figure seems to be sleeping peacefully. Moreover, in animating the figure through performance, she is given life despite the visual overture toward silence, even death.”
——Excerpted from the Radical Presence Exhibition Catalog
Silent Cuts is a non-linear narrative meditation on how interconnected themes of science fiction, epic myth, and Orientalism shaped iconic moments of a lost silent cinema world. The layered montage of clips from more than 20 shorts and features of the silent era suggests an early preoccupation with referents to theater, fantasy, and magic, and formal experiments that shaped early silent cinema. At the moment of its inception, early cinema served as a contemporary means of constructing and visualizing an other, often weaving distant historical eras with mythic and fair tale tropes.
In What Remains, a short film by Chitra Ganesh and Sarita Khurana, a woman returns to her childhood home, and discovers far more than she is prepared for: jettisoned and repressed elements of her prior self, in the form of a young ghost. As in many supernatural narratives, the ghost holds on to prior trauma that keeps her bound to the human world. Also known as “intelligent hauntings,” such ghosts remain in a limbo state, haunting the scene of death or places that were meaningful to them in life. They are, on some level, aware of the living and react to being seen on the occasions that they materialize. Inspired by the experimental narratives films of Maya Deren and 1960s and 70s Bollywood cinema and song, What Remains combines Chitra Ganesh’s and Sarita Khurana’s visual and narrative styles, drawing upon shared interests in memory, subjectivity, and psychic trauma.
Unresolved or unacknowledged, such traumatic experience transforms into memories that linger at and haunt the edges of our adult lives. These ghosts inside us persist, and ultimately need to be set free. We use the conventions of film and supernatural storytelling to give a material form to the process of confronting unresolved psychic material floating at the margins of everyday adult life.