Constructing the Feminine in Late Colonial Bombay

Saturday, May 19, 2012, 4-6pm

@ Tilton Gallery
8 East 76 Street (btwn Madison and 5th Ave)
New York, New York

SAWCC and the Tilton Gallery invite you to a conversation between artist Chitra Ganesh and film historian Debashree Mukherjee.

In the 1920s, silent cinema in Bombay saw an introduction of women as actors in an industry where, previously, men had played female parts; and in the 1930s, Bombay cinema made a shift to the talkies. These changes in the cinema industry represented a time of transition in late colonial Bombay, which served as a host to multiple streams of myth-making and constructed narratives, signified in the traces of Orientalism in the cinema, as well as in social anxieties about “respectability” in a bourgeois-nationalist culture. In this talk, Ganesh and Mukherjee will discuss the iconography of this period through their respective mediums of painting and cinema.

Chitra Ganesh was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, where she currently lives and works. Her work has been widely exhibited both locally and internationally and is included in public collections such as those of the Saatchi Collection, London and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a 2012 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in the Creative Arts.

Her show The Ghost Effect in Real Time is currently on exhibit at the Tilton Gallery, New York. Her suite of charcoal drawings in this exhibition are inspired by the early silent cinema productions of India, Germany, and the US. “These works examine the relationships between intertwined threads of science fiction, epic myth, and Orientalism that repeat themselves as iconic moments of a lost silent cinema world.”

Debashree Mukherjee is a doctoral candidate in Cinema Studies at NYU. Her dissertation tracks a history of work and material practice in the late colonial Bombay film industry. She is a trained filmmaker and has worked in the mainstream Bombay film industry on films such as Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara. She was a researcher with Sarai-CSDS on their ambitious ethnographic project titled “Publics and Practices in the History of the Present.” Before starting her M.Phil degree in the School of Arts and Aesthetics at JNU, she tried her hand at several professions in Bombay including archivist, scriptwriter, and cameraman.

Image: Gopa in the Garden, Prem Sanyas
51 x 73 inches, charcoal on paper.