Mann Island Atrium
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.
In partnership with Open Eye Gallery and Bluecoat.
Accessibility: Mann Island Atrium is fully accessible.
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.
Her project The Digital Forest commissioned by Signal Film and Media, Grizedale Arts and The Forestry Commission, explores how the online space can open up opportunities for sensory experiences of nature for diasporic communities. She also runs an art and nature group for migrant artists called This Garden Group which consists of workshops in a range of natural spaces, a peer support group and a public-facing program to critique the role of botany in colonialism. Previous projects have been with MAMA Rotterdam, Manchester International Festival and Journey’s Festival International, FACT and HOME, as well as many collaborations with non-arts organisations such as the Collegium for Language in a Changing Society, Let’s Keep Growing Longsite, and Furness Refugee Support.
Instagram: @jessica_elmalBook Tickets