The Rishi, contemptuously called “Muchi”, are to be found all over Bangladesh, but perhaps their highest concentration is found in its south western regions. Mainly Hindu by religion, these people are placed outside of the caste system and considered untouchables. Their untouchability status relates to the Rishis’ traditional dealings with dead cows and their skins. Although most of the Rishi people have discarded their traditional occupation and taken up other socially more acceptable jobs, their stigma remains and is the cause for their continuous discrimination and segregation. Their hamlets are located in unhealthy environments along riverbanks and on swampy land. Considered second class sort of human beings they are often refused a place in restaurants, shops and public venues in general. Inter-dining and above all inter- marrying with other groups is frowned upon, and even well-to-do Rishis at the time of marriages have to look for possible brides and grooms within their own group.
In this art installation the expectations of the visitor are frustrated. It is not possible to see with ease or even to get close let alone touch.
Frustrated in his right to be accommodated the visitor, despite himself, discover that he has to reflect on the experience of denial which is being proposed. The exhibition obliges the visitor to live an interior experience of exclusion with the eyes of those who live it all through their lives: the Rishi.
Shilpakala Academy Gallery