Shafeena Yusuff Ali is a hotelier, retailer and art collector based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. A second-generation migrant from Thrissur - the cultural hub of the South Indian city of Kerala, Shafeena is a recipient of Forbes’ 100 Most Influential Women in the Middle East, as well as other prestigious international recognitions such as the Emirates Woman of the Year in 2017 and the Indo-Arab Women Entrepreneurship Award.
A post-graduate from Oxford University’s Said Business School, she is the Founding Director of Tablez Retail and F&B, as well as Twenty14 Holdings – a hospitality investment company which owns some of the world’s most iconic properties including the Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London, Waldorf Astoria-The Caledonian in Edinburgh, and Port Muziris - a Tribute Portfolio Hotel in Kochi.
Kaalpaadukal is the mystic idea of the footprints one leaves behind in the places they make their own, and this exhibition is my attempt to bring together the emotions and memories that a migrant leaves behind - many that are blown away with the wind, and many more that are set in stone and concrete.
A Migrant is a person who has had to leave his home, for love, family, job and more. The idea of migration evokes such strong emotions. There is the anticipation of leaving, the excitement of something new, the stark realities of being on foreign soil, the range of loneliness, the discovery of new friends, the tension of settling in and the hope that all things will work out well. There is also a range of emotions unexplored, that dictate the lives of those the migrant has left behind – his near & dear ones. Their lives, their emotions of anticipation and waiting, their exhilaration at meeting their loved ones again.
The South Indian diaspora with its rich history of migration, seemed a fertile ground for the emotions on both ends of the spectrum to be represented visually.
In times like these when travelling back home has become more difficult than ever, when the starkness of being a migrant is more visible than ever, this exhibition visualizes those emotions. By bringing together a select group of talented digital artists whose lives have in some way or the other been touched by migration, this Virtual exhibition is an ode to those footprints that we see and the many that we do not, but which in one form or another, lie scattered across the world.
I welcome you to open your minds and hearts and experience the audio visual immersion that I have put together through Kaalpadukal, in collaboration with 16 digital artists hailing from various parts of South India.