Unspoken Histories 

Jayatu Chakma’s recent exhibition, “Until the Rongrang Sings,” curated by Sharmillie Rahman invites viewers to see the complex story of identity, displacement, and struggle. Held at Kalekendra from April 26th to May 14th, 2024, the exhibition serves as a touching reflection on the difficulties of the Chakma people, an ‘ethnic minority’ whose history is marred by displacement and marginalization.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is the Rongrang, or Hornbill, a symbolic representation of the Chakma community’s past, present, and future. Through paintings, sculptures, and installations, Jayatu Chakma shows how the Chakma people are deeply affected by the present world.

One of the recurring themes in Jayatu’s artwork is the loss of identity, depicted through faceless figures and dismembered bodies. These haunting images serve as a sharp reminder of the challenges faced by the Chakma community in preserving their cultural heritage among external pressures and gentrification.

The exhibition also addresses the devastating consequences of projects like the Kaptai Hydroelectric dam, which led to the forced displacement of hundreds of Chakma families from their ancestral lands. Jayatu’s art not only shows the loss of land but also the loss of rights and dignity for the Chakma people.

His art challenges the influence of outside forces on Chakma culture, fighting against unfair views that try to box them in. Instead, he offers a vision of hope, where the Chakma people can reclaim their identity and build a fairer future.

“Until the Rongrang Sings” is a powerful reminder of the strength of the Chakma people. Through his art, Jayatu asks us to think about who gets left out of the stories we hear and to listen to the voices that often go unheard.

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