Shafi worked in The Hague during fall 2021 to explore romance, convention, and migration, whilst yearning for a backdrop of endless tulips and confronting his nostalgia about love.
Shafi’s practice focuses on South Asian identity and its intersectional relationships with his national, cultural, spiritual and religious interpretations. From an art-as-therapy perspective, he aims to support an ethic of radical empathy through his works by combining sentiments of tragedy, tenderness and humor.
Shafi used the residency period in the Netherlands as a means to explore conventional and unconventional ideas of vulnerability, reminiscence and primarily, romance. Contextualized by gender politics and ideas of radical empathy, his work will draw upon blurred boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, satire and desires, confession and critical engagement by reimagining queer narratives in South Asia, building on collective pasts and personal memories.
Using Indian classic cinema as a channel for dialogue for this residency project, the artist reflected his encounters with lonesomeness and amorousness under the shades of machismo. His core ideas of romance sprouted from Pakistani classic dramas and predominantly Indian films from 80s and 90s in which hero and heroine were shown against very romantic backdrops of lush green scenery and flowers, climaxing in elaborate songs and choreographies. Many of these scenes were shot either in Switzerland or The Netherlands (like de Bollenstreek). Resulting in the popular belief for South Asians that marriages are made in heaven and a honeymoon is made in The Netherlands.
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