Grounds for Concern: panel discussion

Tuesday 10 August, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Book Tickets


Streamed on LAAF’s Facebook page. No booking required.

This online panel discussion explores the key themes of Jessica El Mal’s project Grounds for Concern, which questions the concept of land ownership and the true boundaries that are enforced by human-made borders.

Led by a panel of multidisciplinary artists, academics, and curators, the event focuses on the Strait of Gibraltar, border surveillance, the irony of ‘invasive’ spaces, and the human aspects of migration.


Soukaina Aboulaoula (moderator), independent curator and program coordinator.
Yasmine Benabdallah, filmmaker and visual artist.
Alice Elliot, Lecturer in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Pablo DeSoto, experimental architect, radical cartographer, multidisciplinary artist, scholar and educator.
Jessica El Mal, artist, writer and curator.

Jessica’s installation Grounds for Concern is on display outside Open Eye Gallery until Sunday 15 August 2021.

Panel biographies

Soukaina Aboulaoula is an independent curator and program coordinator based in Marrakech. She holds a degree in Film and audiovisual productions. She is currently the co-founder of Untitled duo, a platform functioning as a curatorial collective and an art direction agency since December 2017 in Marrakech. Soukaina is interested in the role and influence of the internet in art-making, and the processes of visual storytelling in unearthing invisible subject matters. Since 2020, as COARC/Mellon Art History fellow, Soukaina is conducting a three years research exploring the various narratives of modern art in Morocco and how they shape the interpretations of contemporary art practices.

Yasmine Benabdallah is a filmmaker and visual artist whose work includes The Travel Curiosity (2016), Ojalá: la vuelta al origen (2018), and Its people, its sky, its scent (2018). Yasmine explores stories around memory, diaspora, borders, dance, archive, and rituals. Her work has shown in Morocco, France, Egypt, the US, and Palestine.

Alice Elliot is Lecturer in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She works in Morocco, Tunisia, and Italy on the social and intimate dimensions of migration, economic crises, and political revolutions. She is author of The Outside: Migration as Life in Morocco (Indiana University Press).

Pablo DeSoto is an experimental architect and multidisciplinary artist with long-term experience in working with diverse communities across geographical and disciplinary borders. He holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the Royal Institute of Technology of Stockholm and a Ph.D. in Communication & Culture from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. In the early 2000s, he was a co-founder of, a group of architects, computer specialists, and activists, who pioneered a wide range of experimental projects on emancipatory uses of hardware, software, and the internet on public space and territory. His research uses fieldwork, radical cartography, and critical epistemologies to produce spatial knowledge and investigate the urgent political and environmental conditions of our time. He has been awarded NTNU ARTEC AiR, BCN Hangar/Tokyo Wonder Site artist in residence, LAB_Cyberspaces, UBA Elinor Ostrom, among others. He is the editor of three books and coauthor of the Critical Cartography of the Straits of Gibraltar. He is currently Visiting Professor at the Federal University of Paraíba Postgraduate Department of Architecture & Urbanism, Brazil.

Jessica El Mal is an English-Moroccan creative dedicated to valuing time, care and human connection in everything she works on. With a particular interest in ecology and migration, her work is both deeply personal and yet draws on the universality of the human experience through a balance of digital techniques, aesthetics and interaction. The work tends to address global structures of power through critical research, multidisciplinary projects, and speculative future imaginaries often centered around collaboration, co-curation and collective knowledge systems.

Panelist image order (from L to R): Soukaina Aboulaoula, Yasmine Benabdallah, Alice Elliot, Pablo DeSoto, Jessica El Mal. All images courtesy of the panelists.

About Grounds for Concern

Jessica El Mal’s project Grounds for Concern questions the concept of land ownership and the true boundaries that are enforced by human-made borders.

An installation on the outside wall of Open Eye Gallery at Mann Island Atrium consists of two hanging digital collages. Printed on chiffon, these collages depict the Strait of Gibraltar – an incredibly significant frontier and trade route between Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Today, the Strait is a notable passage for migrants from Africa headed to the EU, which has led to its current status as one of the most heavily surveilled areas in Europe.

While countries fight over this border and its tax regulation, spending millions to police human migration, a tiny organism, the Rugulopterix okamurae algae, has been able to infiltrate undetected. It is a specific type of algae that has migrated to the Strait from Asia, impacting the ecology and tourism in southern Spain.

El Mal’s appropriation and disruption of the satellite imagery subverts its primary functions to observe and monitor. Embedded with the presence of an ungovernable living organism, Grounds for Concern acts as a testament to the inability, and violence, of policing land.

Book Tickets