September 26, 2018 – Natasha Bissonauth

Visiting Assistant Professor & Writing Fellow
Writing Program, Haverford College

“Chitra Ganesh’s Tales of Amnesia: Re-imagining Goddess Iconography through Queer Form”

In 2002, as a South Asian diasporic art scene was emerging in New York City, Chitra Ganesh revisited comic books from her childhood, a series titled, Amar Chitra Katha, that propagandizes hetero-patriarchal visions for Indian nationhood — largely through narratives of Hindu myth. The result was an artwork in the form of a zine titled Tales of Amnesia, a queer parody of Amar Chitra Katha‘s goddess iconography. Bissonauth contextualizes Tales of Amnesia‘s goddess imagery and the nationalist ideologies from which it unhinges in order to highlight how scenes of queer desire trouble diasporic attachment to home/nation. Moreover, broadening analysis beyond queer content, Bissonauth argues that attention to Ganesh’s storytelling form, namely her intertextual dialog and aberration of image and text relations, reveals how queer archival returns enact an aesthetic of opacity, dissonance, and irreverence that ultimately rethinks historical method and narrative processes, too often overdetermined within the visual culture of difference.