The plight of the people belonging to different religious and ethnic minority groups of South and Southeast Asian countries and destruction of their livelihoods, lifestyles and beliefs have been addressed at a showcase participated by 20 artists from eight countries at the ongoing Dhaka Art Summit at National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
Artists from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have depicted the plight of the minority communities in their artworks displayed under the section titled ‘There Was Once a Village Here’.
Curated by DAS chief curator Dinana Campbell Betancourt, the section is part of Bearing Points, one of the ten curated exhibitions at the Summit organised by Samdani Art Foundation in association with Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
There Was Once a Village Here features, writes the curator, works by artists mostly from different communities from Thailand in the east to Afghanistan in the west, who have depicted how their spaces are being demolished by pressures of ‘capitalist greed and religious fundamentalism’.
‘These artists bear witness to religious and ecological violence on, what anthropologist Jason Cons terms, sensitive spaces which are often razed with its people forced to succumb to the state and to its needs’, writes Betancourt.
Local artists Joydeb Roaja and Kanak Chanpa Chakma, hailing respectively from Tripura and Chakma communities, have shown the destruction of traditional life-styles and belief-systems of ethnic minority communities in Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Roaja has addressed the ill effects of militarisation of Chittagong Hill Tracts on ethnic minority communities of the region in his seven pen and ink drawings under the title ‘Generation-wish-yielding Trees and Atomic Fear’.
Roaja has drawn heavy military vehicles and tanks near the working people belonging to the ethnic minority communities to show how militarisation has instilled fear among the ethnic minority communities and destroyed their tranquil life-style.
Kanak Chanpa Chakma has depicted the 2012 Ramu violence during which a number of Buddhist monasteries, shrines, and houses of people belonging to religious and ethnic minority groups in Ramu Upazila in Cox's Bazar were burnt down by fanatics in her acrylic paintings and collaged photographs displayed under the title ‘Soul Piercing’.
Soe Yo New, an artist from Myanmar, has addressed the persecution of Rohingyas and people belonging to some other small ethnic and religious groups by Buddhist fundamentalists in his installation work titled ‘On Ghost’.
Indonesia-based Afghan artist Amin Tasha, who is a member of the Hazara community and fled Afghanistan at the age of 18, has depicted destruction of Bamiyan statues by the Taliban.
Nepalese artist Hitman Gurungu has depicted the sufferings of Tharu community at the hand of Nepal government in his digital print drawing titled ‘This is My Home, My Land, My Country’.
Artists have also addressed sufferings and struggles of the working class under capitalism at the show.
Indian artist Prabhakar Pachpute has shown the sufferings of textile workers in his charcoal drawings.
The show will remain open for all from 10am to 8pm till February 10.
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