Dreaming in Multiverse: Impressions of dreams from Chitra Ganesh

Urgency by Chitra Ganesh | Mariana Riano, PantherNOW

Mariana Riano | Contributing Writer

“Dreaming in Multiverse,” Chitra Ganesh’s traveling multimedia experience, mixes comic book graphics with painting and animation to create a surreal experience.

The exhibition features select pieces from Ganesh’s recent collections, from a series of prints titled Multiverse Dreaming, to a ceiling-high projection of her animations, to striking depictions of worker’s rights and racial justice protests from around the world. 

Frost Director Amy Galpin shared her excitement with having Multiverse Dreaming at FIU: “We have followed the career of artist Chitra Ganesh and we were thrilled to bring her work to our campus and community audiences.” 

One of the community centers that visited the exhibit was the Coconut Grove Woman’s Club, a historic social and cultural pillar founded in 1891.

Hindu and Buddhist symbolism is integral to Ganesh’s work. In Multiverse Dreaming, she draws inspiration from Amar Chitra Katha, an Indian comic publisher that many native Indian and Indian diaspora children grew up with. 

Urgency painting (left) and Multiverse Dreaming print collection (right) by Chitra Ganesh | Mariana Riano, PantherNOW

The thirteen prints are arranged in a cloud of surrealist compositions and pop visuals, calling to mind the non-linear, seemingly-incomprehensible nature of dreams. Ganesh’s work aims for viewers to imagine the full comic book page her pieces might have been a part of.

Many of the pieces in “Dreaming in Multiverse” deal with change, loss and struggle. To the left of the prints is Urgency, where a figure based on the goddess Kali presides over a bright red landscape and a city aflame. 

Two faces reflect the social, economic, and medical unrest of 2020. The third face opens portals in its eyes, as if to unlock a better future the other two faces are fighting for.

Action Plan, from a previous collection entitled “Protest Fantasy,” honors a young activist that rose to prominence during Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of Freddie Gray’s murder. Several images of other protests from around the world, such as those led by woman sweatshop laborers in Bangladesh, hover around her. 

Action Plan by Chitra Ganesh | Mariana Riano, PantherNOW

A few feet away from Action Plan, a black curtain gives way to a projection of five of Ganesh’s animations. These trippy and visceral short films capture the biggest motifs of Ganesh’s career: queer, femme sexuality, sci-fi speculation, activism, and lesser known icons from Hindu and Buddhist lore. 

“We wanted the animations to feel immersive,” said Galpin. “We consulted with the artist and Meredith Malone, the curator of the exhibition, to determine the installation.”

Like a dream, Ganesh’s images dig up and repackage the injustices and confusion that remain in our subconscious — then dare us to imagine a better world. 

Dreaming in Multiverse is available at the Frost through April 16, 2023.

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